Biological Weapons Convention: Confidence, the prohibition and learning from the past


Confidence in the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) needs to be strengthened. When thinking about how to do this, hard questions must be asked about why confidence building measures aren’t working and what else is needed to establish and maintain confidence between states parties. This paper reflects on how those involved in the BWC process collectively assess issues affecting the convention. It focuses on the prevalence of defensive reasoning, which inhibits robust enquiry and encourages anti-learning practices. It argues that instead of more of the same, alternative types of discussions needed to be nurtured.

About the authors

Brian Rappert is a professor of science, technology and public affairs in the Department of Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Exeter. His
long-term interest has been the examination of the strategic management of information, particularly in relation to armed conflict.

Chandré Gould is a senior research fellow in the Crime and Justice Division of the Institute for Security Studies and editor of the journal South African Crime Quarterly. Between 1996 and 1999 she was an investigator and evidence analyst for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where she was involved in the investigation of Project Coast. She is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa’s Standing Committee on Biosafety and Biosecurity.

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