Human security in light of the development of biological weapons

Prepared by: Shorouk Mastour – Blogger and International Relations Student

  • Arab Democratic Center 


The concept of security has always been a central issue in various international studies, as this concept occupied a prominent position among specialists, officials and even citizens.

Security in its various branches represents an obsession for different human societies. With the passage of time and the development of weapons of mass destruction, the security issues under consideration have evolved, and many changes have occurred in the type of threats and the extent of their impact on humans in particular, and they developed. The term security to reach a more precise level is human security, which occupied a wide place in international studies and in security research in the second half of the nineties, and based on this introduction we can raise the following problem:

  • How has the development of biological weapons affected human security?

1 / What is human security?

The concept of human security has expanded from the framework of security and political analysis of regional and state security to the framework of human (individual) security. The 1994 Human Development Report sheds light on two main elements of human security: “freedom from fear” / “freedom from need”

The concept of human security, or what is meant by human security – is a turning point in security studies, through the transition from the security of the state, borders and land to the security of those who live inside the state, within the framework of its borders, and on its territory. This concept represents a return to the security of individuals who are the basic unit of security

The concept of (human) human security can be traced back to the founding of the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1840, and the concept later embodied the founding of the United Nations within the framework of the general principles of the organization, and these, and the concept is also embodied in (7) contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions under The International Movement of Miners, and the International Criminal Court, to punish individuals for violating the rules of humanity against other people. [1]

There are many threats to human security, which focus on the security of human beings in their daily lives, which represents the primary and basic concern of human beings. These threats are broad, but they can be included in seven main categories, or axes that represent the dimensions of security. Within each axis there are its own threats, and these axes are: (economic security, food security, health security, environmental security, personal security, community security, and political security)

Human security has certain characteristics, which are that it focuses on the security of the individual and the group in the first place and seeks to achieve it in the first place, and as a result of this security, state security is finally achieved. The human being represents the basic unit for the establishment of the state and is supposed to be the focus and end of all public policies. He is the target of security and his security represents the basic unit of security policies, and a person’s sense of security is the decisive indicator when evaluating these policies [2]

2 / Biological weapons and their impact on human security

Biological weapons are those weapons that intentionally spread deadly pathogens between humans, animals and plants, such as bacteria or viruses infiltrating by an active act, and are rapidly spreading, extremely harmful where the danger and power of these weapons resides; Easy to spread as a small bottle can contain it,

And biological warfare is a war in which states or some parties commit to the intentional use of viruses, germs, or other microorganisms.

Biological weapons are relatively cheap in their development and production compared to others, and in one of the analyzes, the cost is 2000 dollars per square kilometer with conventional weapons, 800 dollars with nuclear weapons, 600 dollars with nerve gas weapons, and one dollar with biological weapons, from here the biological weapons became known As the “poor man’s bomb”.

  • What is the likelihood of a biological attack

Experts’ opinions differ on the plausibility of a biological attack. The US Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Intelligence Council stated in 2008 that bioterrorism is a more likely threat than nuclear terrorism. In the same year, US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell revealed that of all weapons of mass destruction, biological weapons were his greatest personal concern (McConnell, 2008). Other defense experts and scholars insist that the likelihood of a large-scale attack is small but not impossible to prepare for a biological attack. In 2001, before the 9/11 attacks, several US agencies and academic groups simulated a biological attack, called it The name Dark Winter, as smallpox virus was the weapon used in this latex.

As this training worked on the assumption that there were about 12 million doses of smallpox vaccine available, based on the smallpox vaccine stores that were available at the time, “This exercise demonstrated serious weaknesses in the public health system that could prevent an effective response to bioterrorism or risk. Naturally occurring infectious diseases and one of the main weaknesses revealed in the exercise was the lack of vaccine. And that has since been addressed, at least in the case of smallpox, with hundreds of millions of doses of smallpox vaccine added to the US vaccine reserves.

At a time when the world is fighting against the microscopic virus Covid-19, all countries, including the United States, are still suffering from these problems that were reached by scientists 20 years ago, as the Corona vaccine is currently an obsession for all doctors and virologists, and studies confirm that the most successful Vaccine and safest for humans; It takes more than a year to develop it and subject it to the necessary experiments, while the laboratories from different countries are accelerating to reach the first vaccine at the earliest time, as European countries and the United States are competing with Russia, with China and even India in this field. As for the second crisis that various countries faced In the world, it is the acute shortage of medical resources and the occurrence of failure and paralysis in the health sector infrastructure, even in major countries where the budget for health spending is higher than the budget of military spending, as the overcrowding of hospitals and the recklessness of necessary health measures led to the collapse of the health system in Various European countries and in

International law as a mechanism to prohibit the use of biological weapons:

International law includes two international conventions in the field of chemical and biological weapons.

The first is the Biological and Toxic Weapons Treaty, and the second is the treaty signed in 1993 on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and the second aims to eliminate an entire class of weapons of mass destruction, by prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by states parties.

All states parties have agreed on chemical disarmament by destroying all chemical weapons stockpiles and their production facilities they may possess, and all chemical weapons that they may have left in the past on the territories of other states parties.

With regard to the Biological Weapon Disarmament Convention, it is directly related to viruses, and this convention on the prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of biological bacteriological weapons and toxins and their destruction is among the instruments of international humanitarian law aimed at alleviating the suffering resulting from wars, i.e. it is a form of direct agreements related to biological wars and avoiding Its occurrence because of the dangers it contains to humanity and the environment

Article 1 of the 1972 Convention on the Prohibition of Biological Weapons states that the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons are prohibited, and their destruction …

Conclusion :

Despite the interest of international law and international organizations in the issue of disarmament, especially biological weapons, the possibility of biological warfare rises over time, especially with the emergence of international developments due to the spread of the Corona virus, whose source is doubtful. And different scholars indicate that the world is still facing other waves of abnormal viruses, whether they result from climate change or biological wars.


Muhammad Al-Adawi: Human Security and the Human Rights System. Department of Political Science and Public Administration – Assiut University, Egypt.

Muhammad al-Khashab. Biological weapons … poor bombs. Al Jazeera website. Publication date. 12/18/2019

Germ wars between international confrontation and international law, Afaq Channel website, published March 14, 2020

Samia Jamal, Human Security, The Political Encyclopedia.

Dina El-Ghadban and Others. Biological War. The Political Encyclopedia

Biological Weapons, Bioterrorism, and Vaccines.the history of vaccines.10 January 2018

[1] Muhammad Al-Adawi, Human Security and the Human Rights System. Department of Political Science and Public Administration – Assiut University, Egypt, p. 4/5

[2] Muhammad Al-Adawi. Reference already mentioned

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

Articles: 14401

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *