COVID-19 as a pandemic or a biological war and its implication for international security

COVID-19 as a pandemic or a biological war and its implication for international security

Dileen Sardar Alnoori


In the being times, humanity has started to encounter and live with a great panic due to the spread of the new Coronavirus, COVID-19, whose diffusion pattern differs from its predecessor’s coronaviruses that infect the respiratory system with a consequence of a noticeable increase in morbidity and mortality, and global mobilization to face its current spread is in its most extensive status while the infectivity rate of the virus broadens rapidly. In December 2019, the virus started to appear in Wuhan, China, scientifically, this virus is regarded as the most recent and most dangerous among the coronaviruses strain that first reported as an outbreak in 2002-2003 which caused the severe acute respiratory syndrome and was called the SARS virus. In 2012, the second strain of the virus has started to spread and caused the middle east respiratory syndrome and was called the MERS virus. Coronaviruses are originating from animals and they are zoonotic viruses and can transmit the infection from one person to another. The COVID-19 infection has been considered by the World Health Organization as a pandemic, therefore it differs from the epidemic. The epidemic infection is the spread in a broad geographical area that may be confined to one or few countries, whereas the pandemic infection is a global spread of a new disease involving many countries that the world witnesses now. Accordingly, perspectives and opinions have varied regarding the nature and the source of the virus and also the information and data concealment. Although the virus has been considered as a pathological condition that has developed due to natural factors that occurred with a particular family of viruses and capable to undergo natural development and adaption with environmental variables in order to continuing effectiveness and activity. On the other side, a more widely circulated hypothesis is that the virus has been developed in biological laboratories and has spread due to inadvertent fault and considered it as a biological weapon developed for economic and political purposes. Based on that hypothesis, people have gone more further and claimed that China has hidden facts about the COVID-19 which led to a well-known pandemic situation, though it is the likely perspective in the current condition, since accusations are rising between countries, more specifically, when US President Trump named the COVID-19 virus as the “Chinese”, but it is not so easy to introduce it.

Based on the international law, there are conventions prohibit the use and development of viruses, of those conventions, the 1972 convention which prohibits development, production and stockpiling of biological weapons, which came into effect in 1975. The major purpose of those conventions, although not highlighted as mandatory form, is to completely move away from the possibility of using biological microbial agents or toxic substances as weapons. Therefore, if the COVID-19 virus has to be considered as a biological weapon manipulated for strategic purposes that concern those who undergo this type of war, then this means that there is indeed a fault that has occurred and led to harm and there is a causal relationship. What is required is reporting the international responsibility report requires, whether intentional or negligent.

If the international responsibility is established, as a consequence, the international sanctions will follow, which are either compensation for the harm or imposing economic sanctions, even when the fault was in the form of information concealment about the COVID-19 spread and pandemic. Based on these two assumptions and the validity of one of them, the crisis is complicated and has clear implications for international security and will become more clear by the end of the pandemic, these implications might include:

First: On an international level, after the spread of COVID-19, the concept of international security has receded in front of national security, and all countries have taken measures aimed at protecting their own national security by closing the borders with their neighboring countries and speeding upbringing in their citizens from foreign countries, as well as preventing ships to dock in their ports in addition, each country has started planning their own security plans unilaterally without any humanitarian intervention from the major countries or even the countries of a union such as the European Union, as it was also affected, and this was clear in what happened in Italy and Spain, which strengthened the concept of state sovereignty.

Second: On the health security level, the countries’ weak health systems revealed in the highlight of the medical improvement taking place, as most of them did not realize the seriousness of this pandemic and were unable to intervene at the right time and enough quickly to contain it, according to the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights in force in 1967 and signed by (196) countries which included the member states of the World Health Organization, approved the article (12) of the Covenant, that the human right to a healthy environment should be secured by every country and necessary measures should be taken exercise this right, in addition to the affirmation of the World Health Organization and after the spread of the SARS epidemic that countries should abide by their international accountability to respect the right to health.

Third: On the level of economic security, one of the economic blatant repercussions of the COVID-19 is the collapse and paralysis of most of the world’s economies, starting from those with daily wages, whom lost their jobs as a result of the embargo and mandatory quarantine and led to an unemployment crisis. The consequences will be tougher worldwide even after the pandemic is over, and the economy becomes more competitive than becomes cooperative, despite the variation in the effect among countries.

For the maintenance of the global health security and international peace and security, the spread of the COVID-19 virus recalls to act again within the framework of the United Nations, and there will be a need to reactivate the international conventions such as the biological weapons convention and decisions should be issued for the prevention of biological wars and sanctioning the perpetrators, otherwise, if being underestimated, this might leads to a great human catastrophe.