Research Group Biological and Chemical Weapons Control

The research group analyses the inter­national prohibitions of biological and chemical weapons (CBW), the political and techno­logical problems they are facing, and options to support and strengthen them. The norms against CBW have been codified in inter­national treaties such as the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the 1925 Geneva Protocol. While these norms are currently solid and near-universal, a number of political and techno­logical developments pose challenges that need to be addressed in order to uphold the norms and strengthen the related inter­national treaty regimes. In an inter­disciplinary approach that includes perspectives from political science, international law and the natural sciences, the research group scrutinizes these challenges and explores options, including those arising from relevant scientific and techno­logical develop­ments, for enhancing biological and chemical disarmament and security.

One area of particular interest is the (non-)compliance with and enforcement of the international CBW norms. This concerns for example the question how contes­tations and violations, unproven allegations or disinformation campaigns may impact on these norms, how such challenges could or should be addressed, and how compliance and enforcement could be enhanced through political, legal and techno­logical means. Our research in this area is embedded in the joint research project CBWNet in which we, together with our cooperation partners at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy (IFSH), at the University of Gießen and at the University of Hamburg, analyse the normative structure of chemical and biological weapons control and research options to strengthen them in a sustainable way.

The research group moreover focuses on monitoring and analysing relevant scientific and techno­logical developments in biology, chemistry and other relevant disciplines. While some of these develop­ments may pose safety and security risks and harbour the potential of misuse for weapons or other malign purposes, some may also offer oppor­tunities to support the existing prohibition regimes. In the framework of the Cluster for Natural and Technical Science Arms Control Research (CNTR) and with Prof. Dr Peter R. Schreiner as co-head of the CNTR project group on CBW, we investigate the interplay between techno­logical and political develop­ments in CBW-related fields as well as options to contain chemical and biological security risks, counter disin­formation, and enhance compliance and enforcement measures in this policy field.