From Biological Disarmament to Biosecurity: Securitisation or Humanisation of Biological Weapons Control After September 11, 2001

The rapid pace of biotechnological developments has enhanced the perception of biological threats. Simultaneously, a humanitarian perspective has found its way into the related security discourses and has underscored the relevance of global public health, biosafety, biosecurity and the containment of infectious diseases. The biological weapons control regime is situated at the intersection of these perspectives. In this research project, we analyze the consequences of the merging of security and humanitarian (health) aspects for biological disarmament and the role that different notions of distributive and procedural justice play in these developments.

The project scrutinizes the plurality of normative types of legitimation in humanitarian and security discourses taking as its empirical basis the conflicts within the existing biological weapons control regime. It investigates how global normative notions of security impact upon the regimes regulating biological weapons, biotechnological research and global health policy.

Starting from inductive observations, bioweapons control and biosecurity, including their inherent justice conflicts, were analyzed empirically and conceptually. Field research during diplomatic meetings of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which project collaborator and doctoral candidate Una Becker-Jakob attended as an adviser to the German delegation, provided additional empirical insights. Knowledge transfer from the project is taking place through the annual meetings of the German Working Group on “Disarmament and Nonproliferation of Biological and Chemical Weapons” which Una Becker-Jakob co-directs with colleagues from Technische Universität Darmstadt and Universität Hamburg. The Working Group comprises representatives from relevant ministries and government agencies, members of parliament and of the armed forces, as well as academics from social science, international law, and the life sciences.

The empirically based assumption that humanitarian notions are increasingly merging with security discourses about biological weapons control was confirmed and elaborated by our research. Our analysis showed that health- and security-related arguments are not only discussed in parallel, but also play out and are played off against each other in diplomatic negotiations. This reflects priorities which are informed by different patterns of legitimation and whose respective normative bases stem in part from other normative orders (such as development, global health, or biological diversity). The empirical analysis demonstrated that these developments have direct negative consequences for the performance and stability of the normative order of biological weapons control. These effects will be analyzed in the final project phase of the project (ending in fall 2017).

The most important events of this project:

Lecture: "The BWC: Issues for the 2016 Review Conference", Una Becker-Jakob, EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Conference of the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium, Brussels, Belgium, September 11–12, 2015.

Workshop: Biowaffenkontrolle und Biosicherheit, planned and performed for the program office of GIZ, German G8 partnership program for biosecurity, Berlin, September 26, 2013.

 

The most important publications of this project:

Becker-Jakob, Una: “Building Confidence Over Biological Matters in the Middle East”, in: H. Müller and D. Müller (eds.): WMD Arms Control in the Middle East: Prospects, Obstacles and Options, Farnham: Ashgate (Routledge), 2015, pp. 165–173.

Becker-Jakob, Una: “Balanced Minimalism: The Biological Weapons Convention After Its 7th Review Conference”, PRIF Report No. 120, Frankfurt am Main, 2013, [online] https://www.hsfk.de/fileadmin/HSFK/hsfk_downloads/prif120.pdf [05.10.2017].

Müller, Harald/Una Becker-Jakob/Tabea Seidler-Diekmann: "Regime Conflicts and Norm Dynamics: Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons", in: H. Müller and C. Wunderlich, (eds.): Norm Dynamics in Multilateral Arms Control. Interests, Conflicts, and Justice, Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press, 2013, pp. 51–81.

Another reviewed essay as well as another PRIF-Report are in planning.

 

Personen in diesem Projekt:

  • Project director / contact
    • Müller, Harald, Prof. Dr. (former member) | Profile
  • Project members
    • Becker-Jakob, Una (former member) | Profile


Publikationen in diesem Projekt:

  • Becker-Jakob, Una (2015): Building Confidence Over Biological Matters in the Middle East, in: Müller, Harald; Müller, Daniel (eds.): WMD Arms Control in the Middle East: Prospects, Obstacles and Options, Farnham: Ashgate, 165-173.
    Details



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