I am an ardent believer in multilateral diplomacy and dialogue across national boundaries. My policy engagement centres primarily on the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and its regular meetings at the Palais des Nations, the Geneva-based headquarters of the United Nations.
25 January 2017 ‘How does cyber threaten biosecurity’ 67th Session of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, Geneva
6 October 2016 ‘The disruptive impact of synthetic biology‘ side event to the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly First Committee, New York
27 June 2016 ‘The historical roots of biological weapons’ BWC introductory workshop for new Geneva-based disarmament diplomats, Geneva
I regularly present at BWC meeting side events, where much of the substantive policy discussion takes place on topics too contentious for formal consideration in the plenary sessions
Reports and Policy Briefs on…
…the Geneva Protocol (2016)
…the intersessional process (2015)
I have been nominated as a national expert (2007) by the United Kingdom and as an international expert (2011, 2012) under the European Union Joint Action in support of the BWC
Interview with Giorgio Franceschini from the EU Non-Proliferation Consotrium on the threat of bioweapons use by states and non-state actors, and the impact of emerging technologies on the threat of bioweapons.
I have delivered statements in the NGO session at the last two Review Conferences of the BWC and at each of the biannual meetings in between. Most of these statements have been given together with my colleague Nicholas Sims (Emeritus Reader in International Relations, LSE). More recently, we have been joined by our colleague Brian Balmer (Professor in Science Policy Studies, University College London). King’s, LSE and UCL are all members of the University of London, a confederation of academically and financially autonomous colleges with a long history of joint endeavours in education and research. Read my most recent statement.
NATO’s Partnership for Peace
NATO’s Partnership for Peace is another community in which I am actively involved, with its commitment to increase stability, diminish threats to peace, and build strengthened security relationships between individual NATO countries and among partner countries. Its work on emerging security challenges links in with my work on synthetic biology and gene editing technologies, and the extent to which developments in these fields are enabling the creation of dangerous viruses from scratch and the design of radically new pathogens not found in nature.
Dialogue on Non-Proliferation
I participate in the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Dialogue on Non-Proliferation, where government, academia and security institutes regularly come together under the Chatham House rule to discuss particular topics or themes. I also engage with other UK-based institutions such as the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, for which I have recently written a policy paper on Dual use in biology and biomedicine.
I have also been involvement in the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs community, with its longstanding commitment to dialogue across national boundaries. For many years, the Pugwash study group on biological weapons held annual, invitation-only residential meetings for key BWC delegations and civil society experts that provided a unique forum for frank and open dialogue.