Book: Biological Threats in the 21st Century

Biological Threats in the 21st Century was published by Imperial College Press in July 2016. The edited volume was launched with a series of author panel discussions held in Washington DC on 14 October 2016, Geneva on 9 November 2016, and London on 17 November 2016. The series was kicked off with a keynote address by Andrew C. Weber, former Deputy Coordinator for Ebola Response at the US Department of State and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs.

Biological Threats in the 21st Century offers a fresh understanding of contemporary biological threats to national security. The edited volume features up-to-date, rigorous and accessible chapters written by leading international scholars and supplemented by expert point-of-view contributions, interviews and a witness seminar. The volume mixes the perspectives of around 40 academics, biosecurity experts, policymakers, diplomats and activist scientists, with contributions from different generations, in a creative way that leans on the past but points to the future. It is an authoritative and accessible one-stop-shop on the sociopolitics of biological weapons, telling both macro and micro scale stories of biological weapons, the politics surrounding them, the people involved, the science behind this particular form of weaponry and their historical roots.

The book is unique in the scale and constellation of prominent scholars and practitioners it brings together, and the insights and authoritative accounts these experts provide on biological threats and security. The collective contributions form a unique set of viewpoints that are essential to understanding the complexities of biological threats today.

“Formal chapters are interspersed with opinion pieces from academics and scientists, many of whom have worked on state bioweapons and biodefence programmes, and in drafting non-proliferation policy. Their thoughts provide unique personal perspectives on issues usually discussed from an academic distance…” The RUSI Journal

By critically engaging with the personal, political and historical dimensions of biological weapons, the volume highlights how these weapons are not merely the products of particular historical intersections and of technological, political and cultural conjunctures, but also of individual choices and values. The overarching message is that individuals and their moral frameworks matter, not just in the decisions to start and to develop bioweapon programs, or in decisions to use biological weapons, but also in efforts to create a lasting ban on their development and use, and to sustain the moral abhorrence against these weapons. The volume’s ultimate aim is to develop and shape a new generations’ understanding of the social contexts of biological threats and our responses to them, and, through this, to strengthen their resolve that biological weapons are never developed.

Biological Threats in the 21st Century is targeted at graduate students and researchers in security policy, politics, arms control, international relations, risk studies, science and technology studies, amongst others. The Table of Contents, Preface and Chapter 1 are all freely available.