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

1 INTRODUCTION
The Challenge of Biosecurity
in the Twenty-First Centurys

I. THE UNFOLDING POLICY REVOLUTION OF BIOSECURITY

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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