Biological Weapons Convention, Article X

Jon Jacky, June 2005

US Department of State

US Department of Defense

BTWC website (Government of Canada, sort of)

Federation of American Scientists

Thirty Years of BTWC (Society for the Study of Peace and Conflict, New Dehli)

From the treaty itself:

Article X

(1) The States Parties to this Convention undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the use of bacteriological (biological) agents and toxins for peaceful purposes. Parties to the Convention in a position to do so shall also cooperate in contributing individually or together with other States or international organizations to the further development and application of scientific discoveries in the field of bacteriology (biology) for prevention of disease, or for other peaceful

(2) This Convention shall be implemented in a manner designed to avoid hampering the economic or technological development of States Parties to the Convention or international cooperation in the field of peaceful bacteriological (biological) activities, including the international exchange of bacteriological (biological) agents and toxins and equipment for the processing, use or production of bacteriological (biological) agents and toxins for peaceful purposes in accordance with the provisions of the Convention.

US discussion in the Ad Hoc Group, 1995
(linked to

Discussion of potential Article X issues
Working paper submitted by United states of America
13 July 1995

... Agreeing to consider specific measures designed to ensure effective and full implementation of Article X does not infer that the parties to the BWC conclude Article X is presently not fully implemented.

US proposals to the BWC Fifth Review Conference, 2001
(linked from

Working paper by the United States of America

ARTICLE X ... While the Conference realizes that this article was not meant to impose restrictions and/or limit exchanges for purposes consistent with the objectives and provisions of the Convention on scientific knowledge, the Conference is also assured that this article does not impose any obligation mandating transfers between States Parties.

US statement at BWC Fifth Review Conference, 2001
(linked from

John R. Bolton, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security
Assistance to Victims (Article VII) and Technical and Scientific Cooperation (Article X)
Enhanced cooperation with the World Health Organization would be in everyone's interests. As we are aware, biosafety standards vary widely throughout the world. The United States strongly believes every country would benefit from adopting rigorous procedures, and therefore proposes that Parties adopt and implement strict biosafety procedures, based on WHO or equivalent national guidelines. Furthermore, we should enhance support of WHO's global disease surveillance and response capabilities. Parties could agree to provide rapid emergency medical and investigative assistance, if requested, in the event of a serious outbreak of infectious disease, and to indicate in advance what types of assistance they would be prepared to provide.

Restricting access and enhancing safety procedures for use of dangerous pathogens, strengthening international tools to detect serious illness and/or potential illegal use of biology and providing assurance of help in the event of a serious disease outbreak --- these measures all enhance collective security and collective well-being -- which is, after all, our ultimate objective. With the exception of the final measure, none of these measures was contemplated in the draft BWC Protocol.

The United States believes these proposals provide sound and effective ways to strengthen the Convention and the overall effort against biological weapons. These are measures State Parties can adopt now to make the world safer and proliferation more difficult. The choice is ours.