Developing the BTWC, 1975–1995
At a seminar in March 2000, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the entry into force of the BTWC, Nicholas Sims noted: ‘Looking back over our Convention's first 25 years in force, we find, not a simple linear progress ever onward and upward, but a more complicated history…’. 1 In his view, the Convention's first quarter-century has been complicated by ‘vicissitudes of reputation and credibility’. He felt that in particular the Convention had: ‘suffered from the failure of some States Parties to demonstrate their compliance with its obligations credibly and consistently, and the failure of the States Parties collectively to get to grips with the problem … ’. Getting to grips with that problem is what the BTWC Protocol has to do, and that is the core of our concern here. Sims also noted, however, that over the last 25 years there had been progress.
On entry into force there were 46 original parties to the Convention. By March 2000 almost 100 further states had joined. Furthermore, through its five-yearly Review Conferences the Convention had generated a treaty regime with a built-in mechanism for its own development. The evolution of the regime has been the subject of detailed studies which it is not necessary to recapitulate in full here. 2, 3 What needs to be done, nevertheless, is to review the key elements in the efforts made to strengthen the Convention prior to the commencement of the work of the Ad Hoc Group mandated, from 1995, to negotiate the BTWC Protocol. Three sets of issues are of interest: efforts to develop the unsatisfactory provisions related to verification in Articles V and VI of the BTWC; efforts to develop greater transparency through Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs); and the initial stages of current attempts to develop a Protocol carried out in the VEREX investigation of the possibility of verification for the BTWC in 1992–3 (leading up to the 1994 Special Conference which mandated the work of the present Ad Hoc Group).