Biological/toxins, and chemical weapons

Biological weapons use pathogens (i.e., an agent that causes disease) to attack the cells and organs of humans, animals, or plants (e.g., crops), while toxic weapons use poisons to kill living organisms. Commonly known biological weapons include Agent Orange, anthrax, or detrimental herbicidal products.

The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) is the principal disarmament agreement for this type of weapon technology that commits signatories “never in any circumstances to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain” biological agents and toxins and weapons designed to use them.

All States are signatories, except 23, and 16 states are in the process of acceding.

The Implementation Support Unit (ISU) for the Biological Weapons Convention assists Member States in the implementation of the BWC.

Chemical weapons attack the nervous system and lungs of humans, and are usually dispersed by gas, but also may be transmitted through liquids or solids. Nerve gas and mustard gas are common examples of chemical weapons.

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is the principal instrument to ban the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons and their precursors. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) assists states in implementing and complying with the CWC. 191 states are currently signatories of the Convention.

For the implementation of sanctions and trade controls of both biological and chemical weapons, the following list provides binding definitions: