1972 Convention on the Prohibition of Biological Weapons
The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction is one of the instruments of international law aimed at reducing the suffering caused by war. The use of chemical and bacteriological weapons in war had been widely condemned since the end of the First World War, and was prohibited by the 1925 Geneva Protocol, the forerunner to the Convention. The Regulations annexed to Hague Convention IV of 1907 already banned the use of poison or poisoned weapons as a means of conducting warfare. All these prohibitions are based on a basic principle of the law relating to the conduct of hostilities, that is, that the right of parties to an armed conflict to choose methods and means of warfare is not unlimited. The Convention was drafted during the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament and subsequently adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. It was opened for signature on 10 April 1972 in London, Moscow and Washington. The Convention entered into force on 26 March 1975, and is now binding on the vast majority of states. In addition, the prohibition on the use of biological weapons is considered customary in both international and non-international armed conflicts, applying to all states and non-state actors, including those who are not a party to the Convention (Rule 73 of the ICRC study on customary IHL).