Southern China International mun official Background Guide

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Southern China International MUN

Official Background Guide

Committee of UNDC:

Preventing the Proliferation and Spread of Biological and Toxin Weapons of Mass Destruction Agenda overseen by Francis Lin, Young Su Kang, and Yan Wa Li

  1. Description

    1. History

Biological weapons are catastrophic agents that disperse detrimental organisms or poisons to slaughter people, creatures or plants. On top of strategic military applications, biological weapons can be utilized for political massacre, the contamination of animals or farming to trigger nutrient deficiencies and economic crisis and the phenomenon of natural disasters. Any creature that has potential to bear illness can be regarded as a biological weapon. An example would be bacteria: original genomes can be modified and strengthened to make them more suitable for large-scale manufacturing, capacity, and construction as weapons. Biological weapons can be utilized in different forms such as rockets, bombs, hand grenades (“What Are Biological and Toxin Weapons?”, 1). The 1925 Geneva Protocol restricts the uses of concoction and biological weapons in war. The Protocol was drawn up and marked at a meeting which was held in Geneva under the sponsorship of the League of Nations from 4 May to 17 June 1925, and it went into application on 8 February 1928 (“1925 GENEVA PROTOCOL”, 1).

Types of Biological Agents: Anthrax and Plague
There are two common types of biological agents: Anthrax and Plague. Anthrax is an ailment of people and creatures, brought on by bacterium. Its name originated from the Greek word for coal, "anthrakis", in light of the fact that it causes dark coal like skin injuries. The bacteria regularly infiltrate the body through injuries in the skin. Anthrax anthacis’s sporulation capability and the resistance of its spores to heat, disinfectants and UV radiation makes it one of the most catastrophic biological agents. It is known that the spores can last up to 40 years in water or soil, where oxygen is plenty. The Allies in the Gruinard Island directed bomb tests containing Anthrax in 1943. After the tests, it took 40 years and huge amounts of formaldehyde to clear the island completely of spores, showing extent of destructive environmental effects brought on by Anthrax.

Plague is a contagious ailment of creatures and people, carried by the microscopic organism, Yersinia pestis. It is a zoonotic contamination which can infect rodents and humans. Over the course of history, many individuals in Europe, Asia and Africa were killed contaminated human homes and ports. Today, anti-infection agents have decreased the devastating effects of Yersinia pestis. Annual reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) show around 1000–3000 cases of the Plague from various nations around the globe. People are commonly infected by rats bearing the microscopic organisms or by being exposed to a infected creature. Symptoms of the Plague include swelling of the lymph nodes (buboes) and flu-like symptoms. During biological warfare, Yersinia pestis is spread through the air. The incubation time of Plague bacterial is 2–10 days, which can be significantly diminished to 8–12 hours on account of environmental factors. Symptoms worsen quickly as the microscopic organisms attack the circulatory system, developing into pneumonia with a high fever, where patients cough up grisly sputum. If untreated, patients can die within a few days(“Biological Warfare agents”, 1).

History of Biological Weapons

History (“Biological Weapons”, 1)


Russian troops utilize bacterial contaminated swords against the Swedish forces


The British spread blankets with smallpox virus to Indians during the French and Indian War


German scientists use plague glanders to taint domesticated animals and spread the disease to the Allied powers


Japan initiates its biological weapons program. Situated in Harbin, Manchuria, Unit 731 kills over 10,000 innocent people over its operational years.


Japanese pollutes Soviet water supplies with Salmonella typhi (Typhoid fever) at the Mongolian border.


U.S. develops its biological weapons program and picks Camp Detrick, Frederick, Maryland as its base camp.


Germans employ tactical use of biological weapons by polluting a resovoir in northwestern Bohemia.


During the US biological weapons program, a large-scale aerosol vulnerability test is conducted in San Franciso.


At the end of the Cold War, US President Richard Nixon issues a statement that effectively ends all biological weapons programs in the US.


Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov is assasinated with an umbrella that poisons him with a pellet containing ricin.


Iraq admits its commencement of biological weapon development.


    1. Recent Developments

Recent concerns of biological and toxin weapons in the Middle East have arisen due to political conflict and unrest in the area. Iraq has been suspected of the operation of an extensive biological weapons program in the 1980s under Saddam Hussein ("Chronology of Main Events." 2008). Even though the United Nations inspected Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War, declared its biological weapons program closed and destroyed its biological arsenal, the United States found the UN’s claims unconvincing with the absence of solid evidence. It is speculated that Iraq still holds basic facilities that may be put into use for producing biological weapons of mass destruction. This subsequently led to the U.S.’s aggression against Iraq in 2003 under president George Bush. However, no biological weapons were found after further inspection.

Recent innovative advances ensure that biological weapons can be created with simple procedures, and strengthen the possibility that these weapons could be procured or delivered by the mass majority, including terrorist associations. The 20th century has already witnessed the dangers of biological weapons through accidents in delivering. There was the additional realization that it is hard to determine whether the consequences of the usage of biological weapons are due to natural effects or human intention. The prevention and counteractive actions on a biological weapon attack requires worldwide attention and collaboration (“What Are Biological and Toxin Weapons?”, 1). In 2016, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) asks member states to follow the agreed terms in order to fortify the preclusion of biological weapons. (“Biological Weapons: Efforts Needed to Strengthen Preventive Measures, Meeting of States Parties, 2013”, 1).

  1. Emphasis of the Discourse

    1. Right wing approach

On solving this crisis, there are various ways in which one can contribute valuable solutions. Here are some methods that a conservative politician would support:

1. Strengthen current laws and ratify a new policy of zero tolerance for unapproved implementation of biological weapons.

2. Set up conferences with countries to review the progress of proliferation and spread of biological and toxin weapons.

3. Create international sanctions addressing the unlawful use of biological weapons.
The main focus of a traditionalist policymaker is to enhance regulations that can play a pivotal role in prohibiting further creation of biological weapons. These suggestions can indeed raise public awareness about this crisis and nonetheless alarm countries to hinder development of BWs. However, simply imposing harsh laws may not resolve the destruction caused by these weapons. Forcing coercive regulations onto individual countries may not be the best approach to resolving the crisis, but is worth a try for the long run of events.

    1. Left wing approach

A liberal politician would express interest in these solutions:

1. Accept the country’s previous usage of biological and toxin weapons in wars, and that these actions have caused severe environmental and humanitarian problems.

2. Accredit ambassadors to seek international regulations.

3. Establish programs to support in eliminating mass production of biological weapons, seek advice from NGOs.
A progressive policymaker would approach this situation in a more liberal manner. Once again, such an approach can resolve the crisis in a more political manner and encourage cooperation between nations, contributing to global support. On the other hand, critics might argue that such “subtle suggestions” to settle this crisis will hinder progress on agreements because it is absolutely difficult to meet the needs of all countries.

    1. Stance of intergovernmental organizations

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The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) founded in 1972 as a follow-up to the 1925 Geneva Protocol. The BWC is the first multilateral demilitarization treaty banning the creation and utilization of a biological and toxic classification of weapons. Currently, the convention is ratified by 22 states and holds 109 signatories. The BWC efficaciously hinders the improvement, creation, exchange, and promotion of biological and poison weapons and is a key component in the worldwide group's endeavors to address the expansion of weapons of mass annihilation (“The Biological Weapons Convention”, 1).

    1. Stance of developed countries

While the United States has once actively researched biological weapons in from the 1940s to the 1970s, it currently stands strictly against the use of biological weapons.

All developed countries are signatories of or have acceded to the Biological Weapons Convention, and are prohibited from the use of biological weapons.

However, there exist records of supplying and selling of biological agents from developed countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom to Iraq at the beginning of Iraq’s biological weapon development ("Iraq Got Seeds for Bioweapons from U.S." 2002).

    1. Stance of developing countries

As the center of the biological weapon debate, countries in the Middle East have varied stances on the issue of biological weapons.

Iran has publicly rejected the use of biological weapons and has signed the Biological Weapon Convention (“Signatories of the Biological Weapons Convention” 2011).

On the other hand, Israel has been suspected of possessing biological warfare capability (“Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Assessing the Risk” 2011). While it is not known that if Israel continues to maintain active biological weapons, Israel remains one of the few countries that have yet to sign the Biological Weapons Convention. Reports indicates ongoing biological weapon research in Israel is mainly directed towards Arab countries (Weber 2005)

Egypt has signed but has not ratified the Biological Weapons Convention. Egypt has a record of developing and using biological weapons, which reached its peak in the 1960s. Egypt maintains that it only keeps its biological warfare capability because Israel also possesses biological weapons, and will only use its arsenal when Israel decides to initiate biological warfare (Robinson 1973).

Iraq is another Middle Eastern country that has participated in developing biological weapons. The country pursued a biological weapons program in the 1980s under Saddam Hussein’s reign. The program was extensive and involved long-range missiles ("Chronology of Main Events." 2008). Surprisingly, Iraq did sign and ratify the Biological Weapons Convention in 1972 and 1991 respectively (“Signatories of the Biological Weapons Convention” 2011). Iraq’s stance is still ambiguous on biological weapons, as it claims its arsenal is a strategic defense against Iran (“Adherence To and Compliance With Arms Control, Nonproliferation and disarmament Agreements and Commitments” 2005).

China has signed the Biological Weapons Convention and has declared not to engage in offensive BW activities ("Fact Sheets & Briefs." 2014). However, China is suspected of current operation a biological weapons program and this has raised concern of a possible biological weapon transfer from China to Iran .

  1. Possible Solutions

    1. Solution in favor of developed countries

Developed countries favor a total ban of biological weapons as any country that possess these weapons may pose potential threat to national safety.

A possible solution may be through negotiations for throughout inspections of biological weapons and potential biological weapons facilities in suspected countries. Financial and military sanctions can be employed on countries possessing biological and toxin weapons that are unwilling to cooperate with the United Nations.

    1. Solution in favor of developing countries

While most developing countries have signed the Biological Weapons Convention and do not possess or plan on obtaining biological weapons, certain countries such as Israel and Egypt have their reasons and arguments for maintaining their biological warfare capability.

These countries may argue for the right to use biological weapons as a defensive strategy. However, they are not likely to implement their plans as most nations except for four are signatories of the Biological Weapons Convention.

  1. Factors to consider

Keep in mind that biological and toxin weapons are not to be confused with chemical weapons, which are regulated by the Chemical Weapons Convention. Biological and toxin weapons are different from chemical weapons in that

  1. Biological weapons do not have immediate effect on the target and requires extended periods of incubation for the agent to take effect. Chemical weapons have immediate effects on the target and are more effective over a short time span and direct battlefield usage.

  2. While the usage chemical weapons can generally be confined within a small region, biological weapons have the potential of spreading beyond the original targeted group.

(US Policy on Chemical and Biological Warfare and Agents 1969)
It is also important to remember that while certain countries may be accused or suspected of possessing biological weapons, these accusations may lack sufficient supporting information

Biological weapons may also be used to help and be employed by militant groups, who may not be under the control of governments and may not be subjugated to international conventions. Regions of political unrest and conflict such as the Middle East may need extra attention for potential use of BWs in militant groups. Anti-militant measures preventing militant groups from obtaining biological and toxin weapons may be considered to provide a more coherent solution to preventing the proliferation of biological and toxin weapons of mass destruction.

  1. Evaluation

Biological and toxin weapons, along with chemical weapons and nuclear weapons are considered to be weapons of mass destruction. The obtainment and employment of biological weapons are considered to be violations of human rights and are internationally condemned. The Biological Weapons Convention was established in response to the world’s recognition of the need to regulate and control biological weapons to prevent biological catastrophe and warfare. However, certain countries still pursue biological weapons programs whether clandestinely or openly. International effort is still needed to better regulate and prevent the proliferation of such weapons of mass destruction.

  1. Bibliography

"Biological Weapons." Reaching Critical Will. SUMO Interactive, n.d. Web. .

"Biological Weapons: Efforts Needed to Strengthen Preventive Measures, Meeting of States Parties, 2013." ICRC. INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS, 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 24 Jan. 2016. .

"Chronology of Main Events." UN News Center. UN, 06 July. 2008. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.

"Fact Sheets & Briefs." Chemical and Biological Weapons Status at a Glance. Feb. 2014. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.

"Iraq Got Seeds for Bioweapons from U.S." Baltimoresun. Baltimoresun, 01 Oct. 2002. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.

"UNODA - 1925 Geneva Protocol." UN News Center. UN. Web. 24 Jan. 2016. .

"UNOG - The United Nations Office at Geneva." What Are Biological and Toxin Weapons? The United Nations. Web. 24 Jan. 2016. .

"UNOG - The United Nations Office at Geneva." The Biological Weapons Convention. The United Nations. Web. 24 Jan. 2016. .

“Adherence To and Compliance With Arms Control, Nonproliferation and disarmament Agreements and Commitments” U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC. August. 2005. PDF. 24 January 2016.

“Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Assessing the Risk” U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment. August 1993. OTA-ISC-599. 23 November 2011. PDF. 24 January 2016.

“Signatories of the Biological Weapons Convention” 23 November 2011. 24 January 2016.

Robinson, Julian Perry. The Problem of Chemical and Biological Warfare: Volume II: CB Weapons Today. Stockholm: SIPRI, 1973. Print. 24 January 2016.

Thavaselvam, Duraipandian, and Rajagopalan Vijayaraghavan. "Biological Warfare Agents." Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences. Medknow Publications Pvt Ltd. Web. 24 Jan. 2016. .

US Policy on Chemical and Biological Warfare and Agents. Rep. no. 17558. National Security Council, 1969. Print. 24 Jan. 16.


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