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3D BIO: Declare, Document and Demonstrate

Non-proliferation paper No. 45

Non-proliferation Paper No. 45

Publisher: SIPRI
SIPRI, Stockholm:
April, 2015

This policy paper addresses verification, one of the enduring and fundamental challenges in the field of biological arms control and non-proliferation. Verification is a qualitatively different and more difficult matter for the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) than for other regimes, and therefore requires a different approach. Centred on the premise that trust is enhanced through openness, and building on recent compliance initiatives in the BWC, this paper presents a new vision for strengthening the treaty.

The vision is limited to the relatively small number of ‘high-risk’ states parties with biological defence programmes and biosafety level 4 (or equivalent) laboratories. It is bound together by the shared commitment and common political will of the participating states to: (a) strengthen the BWC and the Geneva Protocol; (b) increase transparency about their programmes and facilities; and (c) develop common modes and mechanisms to ‘declare, document and demonstrate’ adherence to and compliance with the BWC through reciprocal peer visits (3D BIO).

These 3D BIO states form a complementary element to the core, multilateral regime that allows states to address shortcomings in the BWC and go beyond its undertakings, all the while supporting and reinforcing its normative structure. The longer-term goal is to use 3D BIO as a stepping stone towards a legally binding mechanism for the BWC: to provide a portfolio of contemporary experience in on-site visits and to start developing a biological inspection capacity, before bringing the initiative within the framework of the convention.


Dr Filippa Lentzos is an Associate Senior Researcher in the SIPRI Armament and Disarmament Programme.