UNITED NATIONS & WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION’S ROLE ON BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS AMID CORONAVIRUS


Introduction: It’s been more than a year and more now; since the Covid pandemic hit countries around the world. As per reports over 2.8 million and more people lost their lives, while more than 130 million positive cases have been reported so far. Economies came to a standstill, even as drug research labs and scientists across the world raced to create a vaccine.


The first sample of the virus had been sequenced as early as January 2020. Since then, thousands of samples have been sequenced worldwide — helping develop vaccines, improve therapies against the disease and understand how the virus spread from one country to another. Several vaccine candidates have now been rolled out, which experts believe will end the pandemic.


WHO and China probed corona virus origin. And neither of them liked the results

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO)’s report does note that the Wuhan CDC laboratory shifted near the Huanan market - a wet meat market that is thought to have been the source of the virus — shortly before the pandemic broke out.

The report rules out accidental lab leak theory based on two major points — first, none of the lab workers reported falling sick; and second, no disruptions were reported.


WHO adds to confusion

Just after the report was released on 30 March, WHO chief Ghebreyesus said that the evidence was not enough to support the accidental lab leak theory, and that, as far as the WHO is concerned, all the hypotheses are still on the table and need to be followed upon.


His comments came after the US along with 13 other countries issued a statement accusing Beijing of failing to give proper access to the investigators. While Joe Biden’s administration recommitted to the WHO hours after becoming president, the US has not gone soft on China regarding the latter’s role in the spread of the coronavirus.


The WHO-China study, at best, is a succinct summary of the confusion that already exists around the origin of the virus. Each hypothesis is presented, then supported with evidence and then countered, leaving none any wiser.

It does appear, though, that specific effort has been taken to not only absolve China of any blame, but also open up new lines of investigations that lead researchers out of China.


Dr. Francis Boyle, who drafted the Biological Weapons Act has given a detailed statement admitting that the 2019 Wuhan Coronavirus is an offensive Biological Warfare Weapon and that the World Health Organization (WHO) already knows about it. Francis Boyle is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. He drafted the U.S. domestic implementing legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention, known as the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, that was approved unanimously by both Houses of the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.


Dr. Boyle discusses the corona virus outbreak in Wuhan, China and the Biosafety Level 4 laboratory (BSL-4) from which he believes the infectious disease escaped. He believes the virus is potentially lethal and an offensive biological warfare weapon or dual-use biowarfare weapons agent genetically modified with gain of function properties, which is why the Chinese government originally tried to cover it up and is now taking drastic measures to contain it. The Wuhan BSL-4 lab is also a specially designated World Health Organization (WHO) research lab and Dr. Boyle contends that the WHO knows full well what is occurring.


French Nobel prize winning scientist Luc Montagnier has sparked a fresh controversy by claiming that the SARS-CoV-2 virus came from a lab, and is the result of an attempt to manufacture a vaccine against the AIDS virus.


In an interview given to French CNews channel and during a podcast by Pourquoi Docteur, professor Montagnier who co-discovered HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) claimed the presence of elements of HIV in the genome of the corona virus and even elements of the "germ of malaria" are highly suspect, according to a report in Asia Times.


UNITED NATIONS- Who controls the disarmament of Chemical, Bio-chemical and Biological weapons? The United Nations which was founded in 1945 post the Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights. The friendly nations who all signed the Charter and the Convention Treaty for disarmament after formation of United Nations been more onto procedures for disarmament and curtailing the race of development of Chemical, Bio-chemical and Biological weapons.


History and Role in Disarmament Of Biological Weapons

Due to its unique international character, and the powers vested in its founding Charter, the Organization can take action on a wide range of issues, and provide a forum for its 193 Member States to express their views, through the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and other bodies and committees.


The work of the United Nations reaches every corner of the globe. Although best known for peacekeeping, peace building, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance, there are many other ways the United Nations and its System (specialized agencies, funds and programmes) affect our lives and make the world a better place. The Organization works on a broad range of fundamental issues, from sustainable development, environment and refugees protection, disaster relief, counter terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation, to promoting democracy, human rights, gender equality and the advancement of women, governance, economic and social development and international health, clearing landmines, expanding food production, and more, in order to achieve its goals and coordinate efforts for a safer world for this and future generations.


The United Nations has 4 main purposes

  • To keep peace throughout the world;

  • To develop friendly relations among nations;

  • To help nations work together to improve the lives of poor people, to conquer hunger, disease and illiteracy, and to encourage respect for each other’s rights and freedoms;

  • To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations to achieve these goals

The United Nations Charter

12 June 1941 — The Declaration of St. James's Palace in London

In June 1941, representatives of Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, and the exiled governments of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Yugoslavia and General de Gaulle of France signed the Declaration


1944–1945 — Dumbarton Oaks and Yalta

The principles of the organization-to-be were thus laid down. But it was a long step from defining the principles and purpose of such a body to setting up the structure. A blueprint had to be prepared and accepted by many nations.


30 October 1943 — Moscow and Teheran Conference

In Moscow, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and China call for the establishment of an international organization to maintain peace and security - a goal reaffirmed two months later in Teheran.


1 January 1942 — the Declaration of the United Nations

Representatives of 26 countries fighting the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis, decide to support the Atlantic Charter by Signing the Declaration of the United Nations.


14 August 1941 — the Atlantic Charter

Two months after the London Declaration came the next step to a world organization, the result of a dramatic meeting between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill aboard a ship.


San Francisco Conference — 1945

Forty-five nations, including the four sponsors, were originally invited to the San Francisco Conference: nations which had declared war on Germany and Japan and had subscribed to the United Nations Declaration.


What are Biological Weapons?

Biological weapons disseminate disease-causing organisms or toxins to harm or kill humans, animals or plants. They generally consist of two parts – a weaponized agent and a delivery mechanism. In addition to strategic or tactical military applications, biological weapons can be used for political assassinations, the infection of livestock or agricultural produce to cause food shortages and economic loss, the creation of environmental catastrophes, and the introduction of widespread illness, fear and mistrust among the public.


Weaponized agent

Almost any disease-causing organism (such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, prions or rickettsiae) or toxin (poisons derived from animals, plants or microorganisms, or similar substances produced synthetically) can be used in biological weapons. The agents can be enhanced from their natural state to make them more suitable for mass production, storage, and dissemination as weapons. Historical biological weapons programmes have included efforts to produce: aflatoxin; anthrax; botulinum toxin; foot-and-mouth disease; glanders; plague; Q fever; rice blast; ricin; Rocky Mountain spotted fever; smallpox; and tularaemia, among others.


Delivery mechanism

Biological weapons delivery systems can take a variety of forms. Past programmes have constructed missiles, bombs, hand grenades and rockets to deliver biological weapons. A number of programmes also designed spray-tanks to be fitted to aircraft, cars, trucks and boats. There have also been documented efforts to develop delivery devices for assassinations or sabotage operations, including a variety of sprays, brushes and injection systems as well as means for contaminating food and clothing.

Technological advances

In addition to concerns that biological weapons could be developed or used by States, recent technological advances could increase the likelihood of these weapons being acquired or produced by non-state actors, including individuals or terrorist organizations.


Biological event

In practice, should a suspicious disease event occur, it would be difficult to determine if it was caused by nature, an accident, sabotage, or an act of biological warfare or terrorism. Consequently, the response to a biological event, whether natural, accidental or deliberate, would involve the coordination of actors from many sectors who together possess the capability to determine the cause and attribute it to a specific source. Likewise, the preparedness for and prevention of such an event should also involve multi-sectoral coordination.


International coordination

Because of the wide spectrum of potential biological hazards, efforts to manage the risks should be multi-disciplinary, multi-sectoral, and above all, coordinated. As such, the BWC relies primarily on a network approach based on coordination with international, regional, and nongovernmental organizations and initiatives in order to address the interconnected nature of biological threats in a holistic manner. Under the framework of the BWC, improved coordination would provide positive externalities for managing disease, whatever the cause. Such an approach ensures that resources are used optimally to provide benefits for many. In this sense, for example, building capacities across sectors to monitor disease not only strengthens the ability to detect and respond to a biological attack, but it also provides States with the capacity to track and mitigate naturally occurring disease, thus vastly improving public health worldwide.


Biological Weapons Convention

Biological weapons disseminate disease-causing organisms or toxins to harm or kill humans, animals or plants. They can be deadly and highly contagious. Diseases caused by such weapons would not confine themselves to national borders and could spread rapidly around the world. The consequences of the deliberate release of biological agents or toxins by state or non-state actors could be dramatic. In addition to the tragic loss of lives, such events could cause food shortages, environmental catastrophes, devastating economic loss, and widespread illness, fear and mistrust among the public.


The Biological Weapons Convention

The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) effectively prohibits the development, production, acquisition, transfer, stockpiling and use of biological and toxin weapons. It was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning an entire category of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).


The BWC is a key element in the international community’s efforts to address WMD proliferation and it has established a strong norm against biological weapons. The Convention has reached almost universal membership with 183 States Parties and four Signatory States.


Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)

Formally known as “The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction”, the Convention was negotiated by the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland. It opened for signature on 10 April 1972 and entered into force on 26 March 1975. The BWC supplements the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which had prohibited only the use of biological weapons.


States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention undertook “never in any circumstances to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain:

  1. microbial or other biological agents, or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes;

  2. Weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.”

BWC States Parties have strived to ensure that the Convention remains relevant and effective, despite the changes in science and technology, politics and security since it entered into force. Throughout the intervening years, States Parties have met approximately every five years to review the operation of the BWC. Between these Review Conferences, States Parties have pursued various activities and initiatives to strengthen the effectiveness and improve the implementation of the Convention. A total of eight Review Conferences have taken place since the first one in 1980. The Ninth Review Conference is due to take place in November 2021.


Text of the Convention

The BWC itself is comparatively short, comprising only 15 articles. Over the years, it has been supplemented by a series of additional understandings reached subsequent Review Conferences. The BWC Implementation Support Unit regularly updates a document that provides information on additional agreements which (a) interpret, define or elaborate the meaning or scope of a provision of the Convention; or (b) provide instructions, guidelines, or recommendations on how a provision should be implemented.


Key Provisions of the Convention

Article

Provision

Article I

Undertaking never under any circumstances to develop, produce, stockpile, acquire or retain biological weapons.

Article II

Undertaking to destroy biological weapons or divert them to peaceful purposes.

Article III

Undertaking not to transfer, or in any way assist, encourage or induce anyone to manufacture or otherwise acquire biological weapons.

Article IV

Requirement to take any national measures necessary to prohibit and prevent the development, production, stockpiling, acquisition or retention of biological weapons within a State’s territory, under its jurisdiction, or under its control.

Article V

Undertaking to consult bilaterally and multilaterally and cooperate in solving any problems which may arise in relation to the objective, or in the application, of the BWC.

Article VI

Right to request the United Nations Security Council to investigate alleged breaches of the BWC, and undertaking to cooperate in carrying out any investigation initiated by the Security Council.

Article VII

Undertaking to assist any State Party exposed to danger as a result of a violation of the BWC.

Article X

Undertaking to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and information for peaceful purposes.


Historical context

The Geneva Protocol (formally known as the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare), was signed in Geneva in June 1925 and entered into force in February 1928. It represented the first important milestone towards a comprehensive ban on biological weapons by prohibiting their use. However, several States ratified the Protocol with reservations, both with respect to the Protocol’s applicability and regarding the use of chemical or biological weapons in retaliation. These reservations effectively rendered the Geneva Protocol a no-first-use agreement only.


Disarmament talks after the Second World War originally addressed biological and chemical weapons together. However, these discussions remained inconclusive for many years. Soon after States finalized the negotiations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968, a UK initiative helped pave the way to overcome the impasse in the discussions on chemical and biological weapons. The UK submitted a working paper, which proposed to separate consideration of biological weapons from chemical weapons and to concentrate first on the former.


Negotiating the BWC

The BWC was negotiated in Geneva, Switzerland, within the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament (ENDC) and the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament (CCD) from 1969 until 1971.


On 5 August 1971, the USA and USSR tabled separate but identical versions of a draft BWC in the CCD. Agreement between the two superpowers marked the final stage of the negotiation of the Convention. The negotiation of the BWC was concluded by the CCD on 28 September 1971. The Convention was commended by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1971.


The BWC was then opened for signature at ceremonies in London, Moscow and Washington on 10 April 1972.


Entry into force

Article XIV of the BWC states that the Convention shall enter into force after the deposit of instruments of ratification by twenty-two Governments, including the Governments designated as Depositaries of the Convention (the Governments of the UK, USA and the USSR). After the deposit of the required instruments of ratification, the Convention entered into force on 26 March 1975.


Upon signing both the instruments of ratification of the BWC and the 1925 Geneva Protocol on 22 January 1975 in Washington, D.C., US President Gerald Ford stated that “This is a very auspicious occasion. I am signing today the instruments of ratification of two important treaties that limit arms and contribute to lessening the horror of war.” Subsequently, the USSR ratified the BWC on 11 February 1975 in Moscow and the UK ratified the Convention on 2 March 1975 in London.


On the day of the BWC’s entry into force, ceremonies were held in London, Moscow and Washington, DC. At the London ceremony, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, David Ennals, said:


“The Biological Weapons Convention is significant as the first measure, reached since the Second World War, involving the destruction of existing weapons. Biological warfare was potentially a most frightening method of armed conflict. From today over 40 states are parties to this Convention, and have both renounced this entire class of weapons and undertaken to prevent their future development, by appropriate national measures. All governments for whom this Treaty formally enters into force today should gain satisfaction from having taken a step which will reduce the possibility of biological weapons being used in some future conflict.”


Implementation Support Unit

The Implementation Support Unit (ISU) was established within the Geneva Branch of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs after the Sixth Review Conference in 2006 to provide administrative support to meetings agreed by the Review Conference as well as comprehensive implementation and universalization of the Convention and the exchange of confidence-building measures.


The Seventh Review Conference in 2011 renewed the mandate of the ISU until the Eighth Review Conference in 2016. The Eighth Review Conference renewed the ISU’s mandate until the Ninth Review Conference in 2021.


Biological weapons (BWs) deliver toxins and microorganisms, such as viruses and bacteria, so as to deliberately inflict disease among people, animals, and agriculture. Biological attacks can result in destruction of crops, temporarily discomforting a small community, killing large numbers of people, or other outcomes.


“For the first time in history, nuclear weapons are going to be illegal in international law," Elayne Whyte, Costa Rica's former U.N. ambassador who oversaw the treaty's creation, tells NPR's Geoff Brumfiel. The ban prohibits countries from producing, testing, acquiring, possessing or stockpiling nuclear weapons.


Only 16 countries plus Taiwan have had or are currently suspected of having biological weapons programs: Canada, China, Cuba, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Libya, North Korea, Russia, South Africa, Syria, the United Kingdom and the United States.


Five countries had admitted to having had offensive weapon or development programs in the past: United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada.


The international community banned the use of chemical and biological weapons after World War 1 and reinforced the ban in 1972 and 1993 by prohibiting their development, stockpiling and transfer. Advances in science and technology raise concerns that restraints on their use may be ignored or eroded.


Entomological (insect) warfare is a subtype of biological warfare- In particular, the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) bans the development, production, acquisition, transfer, stockpiling and use of biological weapons. Therefore, the use of biological agents in ar