India signed the BTWC with some reservations on January 15, 1973 and ratified the treaty a year and a half later on July 15, 1974. It was one of the few countries to have expressed its reservations, which included:
Over the last thirty years, India's position at the Review Conferences has grown from that of a passive observer to an active negotiator. It is since the third Review conference, which coincided with the growth of the domestic biotechnology industry that India began to participate actively. It has taken a proactive position on many issues that posed possible challenges to the global biological disarmament regime. These challenges include:
There are differences of views between the Western Group (WG) and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) as regards existing export control arrangements apart from the BTWC such as the Australia Group.
India advocates the establishment of a fair, transparent and multilateral export regulation mechanism within the future Organization for the implementation of the Protocol. Transparent, multilaterally negotiated, non-discriminatory and legally-binding guidelines in the Protocol backed up by effective national export control policies are the most effective means of addressing proliferation risks.1
States have to deal with the tricky issue of protecting the intellectual property rights and the confidentiality of business information, especially in the case of pharmaceutical industries.
So far in the working papers India has not expressed any stand on the issue.
According to Article X, Parties to the Convention in a position to do so shall also co-operate in contributing individually or jointly with other States or international organizations to the further development and application of scientific discoveries in the field of bacteriology (biology) for the prevention of disease, or for other peaceful purposes. However, developing countries allege that this article has been exploited by the developed world and the former are deprived of related technology, agents and equipment.
India advocates that by strengthening Article III, transfer of the agents, toxins, weapons, and equipment for non-peaceful uses can be prevented.2 This step would also contribute to the successful implementation of the provisions of Article X of BTWC.
The Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) at the BTWC are in the form of data exchange measures. The first CBMs were agreed upon during the Second Review Conference in 1986 and extended at the Third Review Conference in 1991. Since no further expansion of CBMs took place in the subsequent review conferences, the topics agreed in 1991 are held valid. Every member state must submit a CBM return to the United Nations (UN) Department for Disarmament Affairs (DDA) by 15 April, covering the previous calendar year. In case if the member state has nothing, or nothing new, to report, it can use Form 0.3
The CBM form A2 addresses to the "national biological defence research and development programmes." Under this clause, India is one among the 23 states that had declared biodefence programmes. India has participated in CBMs in the year 1997 only.4 As of 1998 India declared that the declared annual level of financing for the program is 2 million rupees; the declared number of facilities involved in the program is one. The declared number of personnel involved in the programme (excluding contract staff) was 25.5 India needs to participate more consistently to strengthen the CBMs at BTWC.
Some delegations to the BTWC have resisted any definition of key terms contained in the convention, such as biological and toxin weapons, hostile purposes and purposes not prohibited by the treaty. They were concerned that any definition of these terms could undermine the 'general purpose criterion' of the BTWC.6
In a working paper submitted at the Ad-Hoc group Meetings, India defined the terms that are essential to distinguish between a biological weapon facility or otherwise.7 Some of the terms that were defined include- Genetic modification or manipulation, Military medical programme, Biological defence facility, Diagnostic facility, BSL-3, Work with biological agents and toxins, Vaccine, Production capability, Facility and Site.8
Developing countries are concerned that technical co-operation in the peaceful uses of biological agents and technologies is not included in the agenda of the annual meetings. According to the provisions of the Convention, Article X covers technical cooperation. However, such cooperation has been left to the individual states parties to undertake through voluntary agreements and initiatives.9
According to a working paper jointly submitted by India with other countries like China, Cuba, India, Indonesia, The Islamic Republic of Iran, Mexico and Pakistan, some mechanisms have been suggested in case a state party is denied a transfer or transfers for inconsistent reasons. These include bilateral clarifications from the requested State Party or clarifications sought by the Director-General on the behalf of the state party or settlement of a panel for resolving the issue. If none of these measures work then the state party can invoke Article V of the convention as a last resort.