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

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

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

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


Biosecurity comprehensively analyzes the dramatic transformations that are reshaping how the international community addresses biological weapons and infectious diseases.

The book examines the renewed threat from biological weapons, and explores the new world of biological weapons governance. Gostin and Fidler argue that the arms control approach in the Biological Weapons Convention no longer dominates. Other strategies have emerged to challenge the arms control approach, and the book identifies four important policy trends- the criminalization of biological weapons, regulation of the biological sciences, management of the biodefense imperative, and preparation for biological weapons attack.

The book also explores the challenges to public health resulting from new security threats. The authors look at the linkages between security and public health policy, both at the national and international level. For instance, Gostin and Fidler scrutinize the difficulty of developing policies that improve defenses against both biological weapons and the threat of infectious diseases from new viral strains.

The new worlds of biological weapons and public health governance raise the importance of crafting policy responses informed by the rule of law. Thinking about the rule of law underscores the importance of finding globalized forms of biosecurity governance. The book explores patterns in recent governance initiatives and advocates building a "global biosecurity concert" as a way to address the threats biological weapons and infectious diseases present in the early 21st century.


In the first years of the twenty-first century, the United States and the rest of the world have endured shocks, crises, and fears captured in the haunting images, words, and events that define our turbulent times—September 11th, Al Qaeda, weapons of mass destruction, USA PATRIOT, axis of evil, SARS, quarantine, HIV/AIDS, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Darfur, bird flu. This troubling lexicon captures pressing dangers individuals, countries, and the international system face today.

Some of these dangers are not new, such as war, tyranny, and torture. They represent recent manifestations of age-old threats to human dignity, national security, and international peace. Other dangers combine, however, to create new threats to individuals, countries, and the global community with few, if any, precedents. This book focuses on one of these new dangers—the threat infectious diseases pose to human life, the security of states, and international political and economic stability. In short, the world confronts a serious biosecurity threat.

The argument that something called biosecurity has emerged as a new issue in national and international politics may be greeted with skepticism because states addressed challenges posed by biological weapons and naturally occurring infectious diseases for most of the twentieth century. The Geneva Protocol banned, for example, the use of bacteriological agents in warfare in 1925 (Geneva Protocol 1925). States established international health organizations tasked with cooperation on infectious diseases in the first decade . . .

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