Infectious Diseases and International Security: The Biological Weapons Convention and beyond

Christian Enemark

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Threats to the security of states can result from the deliberate use of pathogens (biological weapons), their accidental release from research laboratories, or naturally occurring outbreaks of particular infectious diseases. This article discusses emerging opportunities for international cooperation against infectious diseases through the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The new process for reviewing the BWC could shift the BW problem away from the traditional arms control paradigm and toward broader notions of disease-based threats to security. In addition, proposed revisions to the WHO’s International Health Regulations are highly relevant to the challenge of responding to emerging and reemerging infectious diseases through national and international mechanisms. The article concludes with recommendations for meeting emerging BW threats.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-125
Number of pages19
JournalNonproliferation Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2011


  • biological weapons
  • emerging infectious diseases
  • World Health Organization


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