The independent resource on global security

Managing technology transfers under the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention

Non-proliferation Paper No. 21

Non-proliferation Paper No. 21

Publisher: SIPRI
16pp.
September, 2012

While the text of the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) focuses mainly on disarmament obligations, it also includes one article on technology transfers and the promotion of technological development (Article X). The fact that the obligations, scope, limits and management of relevant technology transfers are not specified in detail in the text has since led to an ongoing and as yet unresolved debate. After the verification protocol failed in 2001, Article X became one of the most discussed issues under the BTWC. The history of the debate as well as current developments highlight two main topics discussed under Article X: public health and transfer controls. Today, the debate is both conceptually and practically underdeveloped, and is dominated by the restatement of incompatible positions. New proposals to rearrange transfer controls and the limited resources available under the BTWC could be used by states parties to recommence a more fruitful debate and find common ground on the issue of feasible obligations under Article X.