The Increasing Threat of Biological Weapons

February 20th 2017 - 07:00

With the World Health Organization (WHO), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the U.S. Blue Ribbon panel publishing reports on the emerging risks of biological weaponry in past months, there is a new sense of urgency regarding biological weapons. In August 2016, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon told the Security Council that “non-state actors are actively seeking chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.”

This report presents the changing dynamics of the development and use of biological weapons and the preparation against them. The dynamics relate to technological advances in biotechnology and the concomitant attraction to non-state actors to use biological agents as weapons due to their financial appeal and diverse impact. The relative ease with which biological weapons can be produced, and the intent of non-state actors to use biological weapons- based on historical precedent and recent surge in international terrorism- call for a renewed focus on this field and an increased effort to respond to these developments. We provide illustrations of new policy initiatives in a variety of countries and outline the current state of play in the Netherlands, providing a point of departure to discuss whether the current approach is sufficient to tackle the upcoming issues.

The report can be downloaded using the button on the right

Erik Frinking is the Director of the Strategic Futures Program at HCSS. He holds a Master’s degree in Political Science from Leiden University. For almost twenty years, he has been involved in addressing high-level, complex policy issues for a wide variety of European countries and international organizations. Mr. Frinking worked for more than 13 years at the Leiden branch of the RAND Corporation, where he was director of the Education, Science & Technology, and Innovation program.

Tim Sweijs is a Senior Strategist. He is the initiator, creator, and author of numerous studies, methodologies, and tools for research projects in horizon scanning, conflict analysis, international and national security risk assessment, and capability development. He has led multicenter research projects for both private and public sector organizations – including the European Commission and various European governments.

Paul Sinning is the Executive Director of HCSS. After graduating from the Dutch police academy in 1985, he started his career in the police force in Amsterdam. As a police officer he was responsible for several criminal investigation units. He later studied management and organization (University of Tilburg, 1995) and became a management consultant (1997) and managing partner (2002) at Twynstra Gudde, a Dutch management and consultancy firm.