Biosecurity in the Global Age: Biological Weapons, Public Health, and the Rule of Law

By David P. Fidler; Lawrence O. Gostin | Go to book overview

8
CONCLUSION
The Burden and Opportunity of
Biosecurity in the Global Age

In this book, we examined the emergence of biosecurity as a critical policy area for national and international politics in the twenty-first century. Revolutionary changes have transformed the contexts for governance approaches to biological weapons and naturally occurring infectious diseases during the past thirty years, but particularly the changes that occurred during the last decade. The analysis found in these pages would have been both unnecessary and unthinkable before these revolutionary changes. In the late 1960s, the United States declared that infectious diseases had been conquered and unilaterally renounced offensive biological weapons. These developments narrowed the world of biosecurity to limited biodefense activities to protect military forces from biological attack. The past ten years have, however, witnessed events and experienced changes that shattered narrow conceptions of biosecurity and opened governance challenges that have few, if any, precedents to guide policy. Never before have states, including the most powerful, simultaneously treated biological weapons and infectious diseases as serious security threats.

We focused on the transformative events and forces that produced new governance worlds for countering the threats of biological weapons and naturally occurring infectious diseases. The problem of biological weapons has transcended, and rendered inadequate, the traditional arms control approach embodied in the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). The biological weapons threat has forced states, intergovernmental organizations, and nonstate actors to build more comprehensive and complex strategies to protect

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