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Disarmament Diplomacy No. 84, Cover design by Calvert's Press

Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 84, Spring 2007

A Counter-Bioterrorism Strategy for the new UN Secretary-General

Barbara Hatch Rosenberg

The global threat of bioterrorism requires a global response that only the UN can coordinate, as recognised in the global counter-terrorism strategy[1] adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in September 2006. This called for several biological initiatives, including: mobilisation of biotechnology stakeholders to develop a programme to ensure that advances in biotechnology are not used for terrorist purposes; development, together with member states, of a single comprehensive database on biological incidents; and revitalisation of the Secretary General's capabilities for investigating allegations of the use of biological weapons. The latter is a vital resource for enforcing the ban on biological weapons, since the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) has no investigational mechanism.

The General Assembly's strategy was developed in accordance with a mandate from the 2005 World Summit[2] and the recommendations of Secretary General Kofi Annan in his 2006 report 'Uniting against Terrorism'.[3] Annan's report stressed that "bioterrorism is especially under-addressed and in acute need of new thinking".

It will be up to the new Secretary General to contribute to the "new thinking", both operationally and creatively, if he is to be effective in countering bioterrorism. This paper discusses some important new approaches.

1. Establish a Technical Unit

Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon takes office in 2007 with new biosecurity mandates but no technical assistance. He should arrange to have his own sources for biological expertise instead of relying on member states, as the UN Secretariat has customarily done. There is no international source for the impartial technical assistance he will need to monitor technological developments with bioterrorism potential and to oversee collection of specialised data for biological threat and risk assessment. Ban Ki- Moon will need technical information of this kind in order to alert the Security Council to biological threats to international peace and security.

Technical advisors are needed right away to oversee the renewal, already initiated, of the Secretary General's resources for investigating biological weapons use, and to evaluate expeditiously any allegations of use that may arise in the future. Technical staff would also be the obvious caretakers for the confidential archives of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) when it is disbanded; the personnel could be selected so as to maintain the necessary institutional memory.

The General Assembly affirmed the importance of creating a forum, facilitated by the UN, where the stakeholders in "biotechnology's dual-use dilemma" would work together from the bottom up to prevent the abuse of biotechnology and direct it toward the common good. The concept is supported by the United States, short of sharing cutting-edge technology. Some preliminary consultations, mainly with Western scientists, took place under UN auspices just before Annan left, but it is now up to the new Secretary General to make a decision and give momentum to the programme - now called the "Biotechnology Initiative". With many urgent matters on his plate, he is unlikely to be able to consider the matter before June at the earliest. He will need technical staff to pursue the programme, and even before that, to gather new ideas and gauge support. Broad-based solicitation of suggestions for the content of the programme, on which it is rumoured that there has already been some disagreement, would help to gain bottom-up interest among the stakeholders.

Concerned elements in the scientific and arms control communities are already wrestling with some of the difficult questions that the forum would likely confront. Examples include how to achieve adequate transparency in dual-use activities; whether and how to set national and international standards for dual-use research projects[4] and develop mechanisms for advance review, approval and monitoring of them; how to define the directions of biological research that are most likely to contribute broadly to human welfare; and how to concentrate global biotechnology resources on achieving those goals. The UN is in a position to put these controversial issues on the global agenda. To do so it will need technical staff qualified to work with biotechnology practitioners to address scientific and technical issues concerning the conduct of dual-use biological activities. This is sure to be a difficult and delicate task, but it is one that the international community will have to face sooner or later.

Although the Secretary General's need for biological advisors will be permanent, the immediate requirement for technical experts to help overhaul the Secretary General's investigational arrangements would justify hiring them on a temporary basis, if present conditions make that more feasible. The eventual dissolution of UNMOVIC and the statutory retirement requirement at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) make a number of uniquely qualified experts potentially available. Even while employed by UNMOVIC, experts can be assigned to other UN elements provided that UNMOVIC is reimbursed for all costs. [5]

A core unit of biotechnical experts could mobilise additional scientific expertise from both within and outside the UN system, when needed. The core experts should have broad knowledge and experience and should represent different points of view and backgrounds (e.g., academic research, industry, military). The cost for a minimal unit of three experts at the P4-P5 level would not be prohibitive; it is estimated to be of the order of $900,000 for salaries, benefits, office costs, UN space, and research expenses, as outlined in the Appendix, based on consultations with UN personnel. If sufficient funds cannot be found within the UN budget, there is a possibility of outside assistance.

It is important for technical advisors to be independent of political and policy considerations. This has been a critical factor contributing to the effectiveness of UNMOVIC and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The technical staff should be located in an independent unit, reporting directly to the Secretary General, rather than connected to an existing unit such as Disarmament Affairs, in which political science rather than technical science predominates. For technical oversight, the Secretary General could appoint a small panel of eminent and experienced scientific authorities to review the work of the technical unit periodically, especially the arrangements for biological investigations.[6]

2. Develop a State-of-the-Art Biological Investigation Capability

Former Secretary General Kofi Annan pointed out that Security Council readiness for prompt investigation would help deter state support for terrorist groups.[7] Annan asked member states to consider the best mechanisms to resource and support such investigations, either at the request of states or of the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The answer to this question already exists, in principle.

For chemical or nuclear investigations, the OPCW[8] or IAEA can be called upon to provide inspection services requiring special training and arrangements,[9] under UN direction,[10] as the IAEA has already done in Iraq. For biological investigations, the Secretary General has the authority to make advance arrangements himself[11] for investigating alleged uses of biological weapons at the request of any member state. In his March, 2005 report 'In Larger Freedom', Annan called upon the Security Council to make use of his biological investigational capabilities when necessary,[12] and the 2006 BWC Review Conference echoed this invitation.[13] Although the standing authority of the Secretary General is limited to investigating the use of biological weapons, the Security Council can request the Secretary General to investigate any threat, including development, possession, testing, transfer or accidental escape of biological weapons.

The 2005 consensus report of the United States (US) Task Force on the United Nations[14] - a bipartisan, Congressionally-mandated study chaired by Newt Gingrich and George Mitchell - recommended establishment of a new UN organisation to deal with biological weapons issues. According to the report, that organisation should establish and train a roster of biological weapons specialists as a standby verification mechanism for use by both the Secretary General and the Security Council, and it should draw up a manual of methodologies for future investigations based on the recent experience of UNMOVIC, the IAEA and the Iraq Survey Group. The US Task Force essentially asks the UN to take a new and more professional approach to biological investigations.

There is now general agreement that the Secretary General's existing investigational arrangements - never really successful[15] - are out of date and in need of extensive revision. When the General Assembly originally gave the Secretary General his authority to investigate alleged use of biological weapons, it instructed him to maintain a list of qualified laboratories and experts, provided by member states and available on short notice, and to develop technical guidelines and procedures for investigation with the assistance of qualified expert consultants provided by interested member states.[16] A report of qualified experts, never adequate and now out of date, was issued in 1989.[17]

Instead of following the same path and continuing to rely solely on uncoordinated member state contributions, the existing authorisations would permit the development of a much more effective investigational mechanism along the lines suggested by the US Task Force. Germany, in a 2004 paper,[18] pointed out that the Secretary General has the authority[19] to choose expert consultants himself, on the basis of their personal abilities, to advise and assist him in preparing for and conducting investigations and evaluating reports of alleged use. In order to maintain readiness, the consultants would have to be permanent members of the Secretary General's staff. Thus, the Secretary General could instruct his own experts to contract the best possible personnel to prepare for and conduct investigations, by selecting personnel from among those nominated by member states and, when necessary, requesting nomination of specific qualified experts - using, for example, the UNMOVIC roster as a source for experienced candidates.

The United Kingdom (UK) also issued a paper[20] in 2004 that implicitly built on the same prerogative of the Secretary General to choose his own expert consultants. The UK paper called for the development of criteria to guide selection of a roster of inspectors and laboratories, and for the conduct of regular exercises to test them in realistic training environments. The development of procedures for maintaining the security and confidentiality of information would represent a significant strengthening of the "existing rudimentary system", according to the UK paper, as would establishment of standing logistical arrangements, including access to non-scheduled aircraft at short notice. The proposal included specific recommendations for improved investigation procedures, and it noted that the Secretary General should have control over the equipment used in investigations in order to calibrate, validate and protect it from contamination. The UK proposals go well beyond the Secretary General's past arrangements.


International control and certification of equipment are essential for full credibility. The UN already possesses the equipment needed for biological weapons inspections. The Security Council can assign and make use of that equipment, now in the hands of UNMOVIC, as it sees fit. Several states have provided UN inspectors with services such as storage and maintenance as well as use of equipment at no cost.[21] When equipment becomes outdated, manufacturers may be willing to provide the UN with new equipment pro bono; otherwise, member states could be asked to contribute.[22]

Roster of experts

Calls for incorporating a roster of trained experts and the experience of UNMOVIC into a permanent UN investigational body for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) have been heard from many distinguished international and national bodies.[23] Several detailed proposals have been put forth by non-governmental experts.[24] It is generally expected that roster experts would work under UN staff codes in order to preserve their independence. Experts on call, contracted by the UN when mobilised, are subject to Article 100 of the UN Charter prohibiting the receipt of instructions from any government and forbidding attempts by governments to influence those hired. This practice allowed UNMOVIC to avoid the problems experienced by its predecessor, UNSCOM (the UN Special Commission for Iraq), which utilised experts provided, trained, equipped and supported by member states.

Former Executive Chair of UNMOVIC Hans Blix noted that "much has been written about the importance of UNSCOM reporting directly to the Security Council and not being dependent upon the Secretary General and the big and allegedly bureaucratic UN Secretariat. For my part, I will rather underline that UNMOVIC, unlike UNSCOM, was not dependent upon member governments to provide gratis personnel, equipment and services".[25]

Permanent staff and financial resources

It is evident that building and maintaining a competent biological investigational capability will require permanent technical staff as well as an on-call roster. All the necessary preparations could be carried out right now by technical staff without further authorisation, up to the point of actual training and laboratory certification. Before those undertakings, a General Assembly resolution would probably be desirable to support the concept of training and provide modest funding for it.

A cost estimate of $380,000 per year for roster training and laboratory certification, based on the experience of former UN inspection personnel, is presented in the Appendix. If funds cannot be found within the regular budget, there are member states that may be interested in contributing - the European Union (EU), for example, in its 'Strategy against the Proliferation of WMD', includes "financial resources to support specific projects conducted by multilateral institutions...which could assist in fulfilling our objectives".[26] A number of member states that contributed services to UNMOVIC, including the use of their facilities for roster training sessions, may be willing to do the same for the Secretary General. For example, a small European country was prepared to sign an agreement with UNMOVIC providing, at no cost, the use of training facilities and support, as well as office and laboratory space, equipment storage and maintenance, and health and safety support in the field.

Conducting actual inspections would incur additional costs. Transportation, living expenses and special services would be required. To maintain independence, roster experts would have to be paid as UN consultants when called up, mostly at mid-level P3 to P5 rates on the UN scale (without benefits, if hired for less than six months).

An approximate estimate for a one-week field inspection with eight inspectors (two staff experts, six roster experts), using scheduled flights, can be found in the Appendix. When the General Assembly established the Secretary General's investigational authority it made no provision for covering inspection costs; it was simply assumed that interested member states would pick up the tab. Past experience shows that this and other ad hoc arrangements for inspections are inadequate. In the long run, a General Assembly resolution establishing a more reliable and equitable means of funding on-site inspections would be desirable.

3. Enforce the Biological Weapons Convention

The BWC, which embodies the norm against biological weapons, has as its only means of verification the right of states parties to lodge complaints with the Security Council and the obligation of states parties to cooperate in carrying out any investigation that the Council may initiate. Thus, the UN must play an active role in enforcing the ban on biological and toxin weapons. Active efforts are underway to increase the number of BWC states parties (now 155) and move toward declaring the ban to be a rule of international law, universally binding on BWC parties and non-parties alike.[27]

State compliance with the ban is critical for preventing bioterrorism, because the most likely sources for biological weapons acquisition by terrorists are states. There is no evidence that terrorists presently possess significant biological weapons capabilities or could soon develop them on their own, [28] nor is it likely that any state would risk providing biological weapons directly to terrorists. Rather, the history of weapons proliferation indicates a flow from the big powers to those with lesser resources, via designs and materials bought, stolen or leaked from the original sources. The anthrax strain in the letters of 2001 - the only serious bioterrorist attack in recent times - is an example. This is the way biological weapons are most likely to fall into the hands of terrorists, who would surely prefer to poach on state programmes rather than imitate the costly and time-consuming process[29] of developing the weapons themselves.

At the sixth BWC Review Conference[30] in December 2006 the states parties emphasised their responsibility under the Convention to safeguard relevant materials, prevent their acquisition by sub-national groups, impose criminal penalties within their jurisdiction, and develop oversight and educational measures to raise awareness of the danger of misuse among researchers. They also decided to devote annual meetings to these matters in 2007 and 2008. Nevertheless, no significant action to adopt binding verification measures can be expected under the BWC for a long time to come, even if the US should reverse its opposition.

The failure of the BWC Protocol negotiations in 2001 made the defunct Protocol (which still remains on the table in so-called "Sleeping Beauty" mode) a political weapon that any state party to the Convention can invoke if it wishes to prevent new negotiations. At the same time, many states parties that formerly supported the Protocol now consider its text - as it finally evolved under the consensus rule, stripped of much of its early value - to be obsolete in the light of recent experience in Iraq. Nonetheless, many parties remain committed to the development of measures to verify compliance with the BWC "in the longer term".[31] For the present, all parties warily avoided the issue at the Review Conference, thereby enabling some progress on other issues.[32]

A strengthened and operational capability for biological investigations, maintained by the Secretary General and available to the Security Council to investigate possible violations of the BWC, would be a significant step forward for the Convention. It would tend to deter states parties from gross violation of the BWC and would provide an alternative to military action in confronting serious biological threats.[33] But it would not be equivalent to a BWC compliance regime. The permanent members of the Security Council would effectively be excluded from investigation, and there still would be no routine or periodic measures for assessing compliance.

If eventually an appropriate BWC compliance regime is adopted by the states parties, its inspectorate could be jump-started by a skilled and ready, up-to-date UN biological investigation mechanism. There is also another interesting possibility: a competent UN investigational capability could evolve into a dedicated international biological inspection agency, serving the BWC but outside it, much as the IAEA serves the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

A major element in an effective biological regime is likely to be the monitoring of dual-use biological facilities by maintaining a constant possibility of inspection, with specified access required. Such a regime, which could be viewed as a "safeguards" mechanism, could be established through an agreement analogous to the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocol concluded with the IAEA by parties to the NPT to cover dual-use nuclear facilities.

To initiate such a process, a group of like-minded BWC states parties[34] could decide to negotiate a compliance agreement. They could facilitate the process by not requiring consensus, following the model of the 1997 Mine Ban Convention (also known as the Ottawa Treaty). Global post-9/11 popular concern about biological weapons might lend support to such a process.

Like the Mine Ban Convention, a BWC compliance agreement could assign implementation to the UN Secretary General. In such a case, his biological inspection capability would be a critical asset. Once the General Assembly approved the agreement, it could be opened for signature by all the parties to the BWC. Significant pressure on states parties to sign the agreement, applied by the Security Council or a group of major powers, would of course be essential. The Secretary General's biological weapons investigational capability could then be reorganised as a biological analogue of the IAEA. This route to a satisfactory BWC compliance regime might well be easier to negotiate than a replication of the Protocol process.


[1] General Assembly Resolution, The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, September 8, 2006, (http://www.un.org/terrorism/strategy/).

[2] World Summit Outcome, A/res/60/1 (September 15, 2005).

[3] Kofi Annan, 'Uniting against terrorism: recommendations for a global counter-terrorism strategy', Report of the Secretary General, A/60/825 (April 27, 2006).

[4] A US Task Force on the UN (see endnote 14) recommended in June 2005 that the UN should set international standards for dual-use bioresearch.

[5] UNMOVIC personnel have been temporarily assigned elsewhere within the UN on a number of occasions, with the provision that UNMOVIC must be reimbursed for salaries, etc. For an example, see paragraph 26 of the 23rd UNMOVIC Report (November 29, 2005).

[6] Likely sources for members of a technical oversight panel include past leaders of biological investigations in Iraq, members of the UNMOVIC College of Commissioners, and participants in the BWC Protocol negotiations who served as important technical resources.

[7] Kofi Annan, op cit, paragraph 73.

[8] In cases concerning chemical weapons, a Relationship Agreement between the OPCW and the UN - A/Res/55/283 (September 24, 2001) - permits the UN to call on the OPCW in resolving allegations of chemical weapons' use by non-parties as well as parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The agreement also requires the OPCW to bring particularly grave cases to the attention of the Security Council, and allows for the provision of assistance by the OPCW to the Secretary General (whose investigative authority also includes chemical weapons' use).

[9] When calling upon an outside inspectorate for assistance, the Security Council has to set the rules of engagement and provide financial support, and special training of the inspectors would be necessary. The June 2005 Report of the US Task Force on the United Nations (see endnote 15) suggested that the OPCW should maintain a specially-trained contingent for use by the Security Council. The IAEA provided a specially-trained contingent in Iraq. Eventually, a common training programme for special contingents from existing international inspectorates would facilitate collaborative activities among them, when needed. Proliferation of all three types of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is often linked, and long-range delivery systems are largely the same for all. The value of a multidisciplinary approach was demonstrated in Iraq, where mixed inspections covering all WMD were especially effective (see 'Disarmament and Non-Proliferation: Lessons Learnt from the Iraqi File', a 2004 paper by UNMOVIC Commissioner Roque Monteleone-Neto, which points out that "the complexity and extent of Iraqi proscribed programmes, involving several governmental bodies, ministries, research institutions, universities etc." made a multidisciplinary approach especially valuable. "A similar situation is likely to be found in any State that makes the highly important decision to implement programmes to develop WMD".)

[10] Security Council investigations may need to go beyond the limitations imposed by existing treaty regimes. In such cases, the European Union has explicitly declared its support for the use of non-routine inspections under international control (European Council, 'Basic Principles for an EU Strategy against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction', 2003).

[11] A/RES/37/98D (December 13, 1982); A/RES/42/37C (November 30, 1987).

[12] Kofi Annan, 'In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all', Report of the Secretary General, A/59/2005 (March 21, 2005). Annan cites S/Res/620 (1988), in which the Security Council pledges to consider, in the context of the Secretary General's investigations, appropriate and effective measures in accordance with the UN Charter.

[13] Final Declaration of the Sixth Review Conference of the BWC, (December 8, 2006), paragraph 28.

[14] US Task Force on the United Nations, 'American Interests and UN Reform', chaired by Newt Gingrich and George Mitchell, US Institute of Peace, (June 15, 2005).

[15] J.B. Tucker and R.A. Zilinskas, 'UN Field Investigations: The Historical Record', sidebar in 'Assessing US Proposals to Strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention', Arms Control Today, April 2002.

[16] See endnote 11.

[17] Annex I, 'Report of the group of qualified experts established in pursuance of General Assembly resolution 42/37C', A/44/561.

[18] Germany, 'United Nations involvement in investigating the possible use of biological weapons', BWC/MSP/2004/MX/WP.10 (July 15, 2004). The paper was submitted at a BWC meeting of experts to discuss international mechanisms for investigating alleged use of biological weapons.

[19] A/44/561, Annex I, paragraphs 57-64.

[20] United Kingdom, 'Enhancing International Capabilities for Responding to, Investigating and Mitigating the Effects of Cases of Alleged Use of Biological or Toxin Weapons or Suspicious Outbreaks of Disease', BWC/MSP/2004/MX/WP.56 (July 23, 2004). The paper was submitted as a trial balloon with the prior disapproval of the US but support from European countries. The South African Chairman of the BWC meeting drafted a letter containing an abbreviated version of the UK proposals for transmission to the UN Secretary General, but the consensus rule prevented its adoption in the meeting's final report.

[21] If inspection equipment were maintained for the Secretary General by a member state, it could be certified by UN personnel during training sessions and before use in an inspection.

[22] UNMOVIC maintains up-to-date information on new developments in inspection techniques and equipment and could pass that information on to the Secretary General's technical advisors.

[23] Calls for a UN WMD investigational body modelled on UNMOVIC are found in, for example, 'A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility', Report of the Secretary General's High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, A/59/565 (December 2004); the UK op cit; US Task Force on the UN op cit; and the European Strategy against the Proliferation of WMD (Chapter III, A.3, adopted by the European Council, December 12, 2003).

[24] Detailed proposals for a UN WMD investigation body have been presented by B.H. Rosenberg, 'Enforcing WMD Treaties: Consolidating a UN Role', Disarmament Diplomacy 75 (January/February 2004); and T. Findlay, 'A standing United Nations verification body: necessary and feasible', Compliance Chronicles 1 (December 2005).

[25] Hans Blix, Keynote Speech at the 2004 Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference, June 21, 2004.

[26] EU Strategy against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, adopted December 12, 2003 by the European Council, Chapter III, A.3. Financial estimates for planned contributions are found in Annex B, 'Priorities Requiring EU Funding', of the six-monthly 'Progress Report on the Implementation of Chapter III of the EU Strategy', Council of the European Union, December 2005. The cost of training and certification in support of a UN investigation capability would be a minor addition to the EU's current expenditures for other such projects.

[27] At the Sixth Review Conference of the BWC in December 2006, the parties reaffirmed their commitment to universalisation and adopted measures to promote it (see endnote 31). Prior to that, the EU had already initiated action on universalisation (EU Council Joint Action 2006/184/CFSP of 27 February 2006 in support of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in the framework of the EU Strategy against the Proliferation of WMD, Annex on supporting the universalisation of the BTWC).

[28] M. Leitenberg, Assessing the Biological Weapons and Bioterrorism Threat (Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College, December 2005).

[29] To develop a usable biological weapon of mass destruction, possessing a biological weapons agent is only the first step; production (the best agents tend to be unstable during growth, especially genetically-engineered agents), purification and processing (treatments that promote aerosolisability and optimal particle size), effective means of delivery (without inactivating the agent), and, not least, realistic testing to make sure the whole system will work as well as a standard explosive would - these require time, expertise, resources and locations that are rarely if ever available to terrorists.

[30] Final Document, Sixth Review Conference of the BWC, (December 8, 2006), available at http://www.opcw.org: Part II, Final Declaration, and Part III, Decisions and Recommendations.

[31] EU Council Common Position 2006/242/CFSP (March 20, 2006), relating to the 2006 Review Conference of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC). The UK's Parliamentary Undersecretary of State commented at that time that there are no signs at the moment that the international climate has changed enough to permit universal agreement on verification.

[32] See endnote 32.

[33] The American David Kay, a critic of inspections before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, learned subsequently as leader of the Iraq Survey Group that "international inspection is even more important now than it ever was...there really is no substitute for effective inspections...if there is effective inspection the need for unilateral pre-emptive action becomes much less critical" (from 'Searching for the Truth about Iraq's WMD: An Interview with David Kay', Arms Control Today 34, 3 (April 2004) pp3-7.

[34] The EU, for example, has declared support for the establishment of additional international verification instruments to ensure effective detectability of violations and thereby deter non-compliance with WMD treaty regimes (no. 7, 'Basic Principles for an EU Strategy against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction', European Council, June 16, 2003).

Appendix - Estimated Minimum Costs per Year (US Dollars)

Based on consultations with former UN inspectors



1. Biotechnical Advisors

3 expert staff, P4/P5 @ $200,000/year salary and benefits plus $25,000/year each for miscellaneous extra UN benefits


UN space @ $100/square feet, 125 square feet/person 37,500
Additional UN overhead, if applicable


Office expenses and travel (other than for training or inspections)


Biotechnical Advisors, Total per year for a minimum of three

(+ any additional UN overhead)

2. Research Expenses for Fact-Finding (rough estimate)

Databases etc. (contribution to UN system @ $2,000 per staff person)


Materials and imagery, including satellite photos (arranged under another UN agency's contract)


Consultants (e.g. imagery analysts), seconded by member states: estimate based on 5 consultants for 2 days each, travel @ $3,500, per diem rate @ $400/day


Translation and other UN services, estimated for 20 days @ UN P3-4 rate of about $90,000/year = $350/day


Other services


Research Expenses Total per year


Total Annual Cost for Technical Unit



1. Laboratory Contracts and Certification (annual)

(Estimate based on UNMOVIC finding of five laboratories that, among them, can cover all agents in duplicate)

Retainer fees, annual (some donated) 10,000
Testing materials (some donated) 10,000
Sample analysis [i] fees ($5,000 each), 3 laboratories/year, 2 samples each 30,000
Laboratory Certification Total per year 50,000

2. Roster Training

(Estimate based on an average total of 4 weeks per year devoted to training at 2 locations for 15 trainees plus 3 staff per session) [ii]

Air and local transport @ $3500/person = $63,000/session, 2 sessions 126,000
Per diem rate @ $400/day/person = $7,200/day, 4 weeks 201,600
Materials and new equipment (donated by companies) 0
Average Roster Training Total per year 327,600
Total Annual Cost for Training and Certification 377,600
GRAND TOTAL, ANNUAL COSTS with a minimal staff of 3 1,276,600



With 8 inspectors, using scheduled flights

6 roster members @ $2,000/week/person (no benefits)


2 staff (no extra cost) 0
Per diem rate @ $400/day/person


Air and local transport @ $6,000/person


Equipment transport


Materials (some donated)


Laboratory analyses (assume 2 @ $5000)


Contracts: radar, satellite photos, etc.


Interpreters (at no extra cost, if roster experts can also interpret)

Assume 1 roster expert + 1 outside interpreter @$350/day fee


Outside interpreter's transport @ $6,000


Outside interpreter's per diem rate @ $400/day 2,800

Field Medical Service (assume donated by a UN member state)


Field NBC Decontamination and Safety Service (assume donated by a UN member state) 0
Total for a One-Week Inspection 170,650

[i] Comprehensive analysis by certified laboratories, an exacting and time-consuming process, is necessary for critical samples. In addition, analyses in the field are necessary during an inspection to guide the work of the inspectors.

[ii] The experts consulted suggested that roster training, as originally practiced by UNMOVIC, could be condensed through the use of appropriate scheduling and locations and supplementation via the Internet. An average of four training sessions per year should suffice:

  • --Basic training, 4 weeks, offered in even years for new recruits;
  • --Advanced training, 1 week, offered in odd years for those with basic training;
  • --Special field training, 1 week, offered in odd years, back to back at the same location as advanced training, for experts in the specialties covered (topics rotated);
  • --Regional brush-up seminars, 1 week, yearly at different locations, to maintain and update the training of roster members;
  • --Regular supplemental training and information via Internet.

Inspection equipment could be stored and maintained at a location with appropriate training facilities, donated by a member state. All training with equipment would be conducted at that site. The following states have donated biological training facilities and support to UNMOVIC: Austria, Brazil, Argentina, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, the United States and China (for chemical training). Brush-up sessions could be rotated among various locations to facilitate regional attendance. Instruction, in English, would be conducted by UN staff, accredited site personnel and trainees with special expertise.

Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, PhD, is Co-founder of the Scientists Working Group on Biological and Chemical Weapons, affiliated with the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, Washington, DC, and Research Professor, Natural Sciences, State University of New York at Purchase, where she focuses on biological weapons issues. This article owes a great deal to members of UNMOVIC, UNSCOM, OPCW and other experts with whom I consulted extensively, and Henrietta Wilson of the Acronym Institute. Thank you! You are truly coauthors of the report.

© 2007 The Acronym Institute.