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Related commentary: Chemical and biological weapons

Riot control agents: improve knowledge to improve safety

A number of recent incidents have reinforced renewed concern regarding states' use of so-called riot control agents (RCAs)particularly tear gases and pepper sprayagainst civilians. The legitimacy of RCAs as a means to maintain and restore public order is based on two assumptions: first, that they do no long-term harm to their targets, and second, that they are used responsibly and appropriately.

The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention—approaching a mid-life crisis?

The 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) is one of the most widely ratified multilateral treaties concerning armed conflict since the Geneva Conventions. Its core principle has not been challenged: no country argues that the use of biological weapons is legitimate. Nevertheless, advances in science and technology are changing the very nature of ‘biological agents’ and the ways in which they can be produced and manipulated. As the BTWC approaches 40, is it still up to its primary task of preventing biological warfare?