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CBW Events is a project to create a record of events to enable and encourage understanding of how policies on the issues relating to chemical and biological warfare (CBW) and its prevention are developed.

CBW Events

The aim of CBW Events is a long-term project to record significant events, both large and small, relating to preparation for or prevention of chemical and biological warfare. The co-ordinating editor is Richard Guthrie.

National and international policies in relation to chemical and biological warfare (CBW) have complex roots and derivations. There are many ways an observer may want to analyse the development and the implications of such policies. The method that is adopted here is to break down developments into discrete but inter-related events and present them in a chronological sequence.

Examples of what constitutes "events" can include, inter alia:

  • the presentation of official speeches, announcements, declarations or documents;
  • the gathering of individuals at a particular location, including committees and conferences;
  • the publication of papers, articles and books;
  • the movement of individuals, either singly or as a group; and
  • births and deaths.

A particular advantage of this approach is that it can take into account factors that can complicate other approaches. Participants in a simple event, such as an intergovernmental conference, may have a variety of interpretations about what happened within it and the overall significance of the conference. All human experiences are subject to interpretation and this interpretation may vary according to the experiences, assumptions, cultural backgrounds and even prejudices, being brought to bear by the individual who is doing the interpreting.

A key characteristic of an event is that its validity can be determined, such that it can be established that a particular policy document was released or an article was published. It must be noted, however, that even if an event is considered to be valid, this does not mean that all data embodied within the event is automatically assumed to be accurate. Indeed, the history of CBW is replete with misinformation (things that are incorrect inadvertently) and disinformation (deliberately introduced incorrect information); this cannot be ignored as misinformation and disinformation has been influential in policy development. The chronology format allows for readers to come to their own conclusions about the veracity of information in any particular event.

The collation of events in a logical sequence with appropriate cross referencing provides a particularly rich research resource.

As well as publication of annual chronologies, work is underway to publish themed chronologies such as on Iraq & CBW and Syria & CBW. Other themes under consideration include: Libya & CBW; Terrorism & CBW; and the Biological Weapons Convention negotiations in the 1960s and 1970s.

The CBW Events chronologies are compiled from open source material collected by diligent researchers around the world. The gathering of source material has been a collective effort and most notably in the creation of archives at HSP and SIPRI. Very many people have helped put together these archives over a number of decades. To attempt to list all of these individuals would be an exercise doomed to failure.

In addition, researchers have not only contributed source materials but also prepared chronology entries.

The chronology resources become much more valuable when more people are able to engage with the subject matter. For this reason CBW Events is also involved with a range of contemporary activities to encourage engagement with CBW issues by non-specialists. Examples of this work include:

Other materials planned for the engagement thread of activities include a guide to science and technology matters for diplomats and negotiators dealing with CBW issues.