PHILADELPHIA -- Harvey Rubin, director of the University of Pennsylvanias Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis and Response, is among six internationally recognized experts who have authored a five-point roadmap for the global community to enhance worldwide biosecurity. The experts recommend that these five priorities be undertaken through immediate, action-oriented initiatives on an international scale.
The roadmap, A Consensus Statement of Priority Actions for the Promotion of Global Biosecurity, recommends greater international communication and cooperation to combat the rising threat of pandemic, epidemic and endemic infectious diseases which threaten personal, national and international security. It is an outgrowth, in part, of Rubin and ISTARs work on a Global Compact for Infectious Disease, which began on the Penn campus a year ago.
We know with great certainty that the deliberate spread of infectious diseases is one option for terrorists and is a major security concern, said Rubin, professor of medicine, microbiology and computer science in addition to his role at ISTAR. However, non-deliberate spread is more likely and also constitutes a severe threat to security. The global community is capable of resolving complex and sometimes overlooked international issues, as it has with the prohibition of land mines. This must happen again with regard to biological threats.
The priority actions include:
- The development of an international shared database on global biological holdings, research facilities and infectious disease patterns.
- Improved education and elevated awareness among the scientific, academic and policy communities of the nature of biological threats.
- Greater interdisciplinary coordination and information sharing in support of the improvement of global biosecurity, including a yearly global convention on biosecurity featuring a broad cross section of life sciences stakeholders.
- An open dialogue between the public and private sectors on the risks posed by the potential misapplication of biological materials, while emphasizing the need to protect the scientific and economic value created in the biotechnology and life sciences fields.
- The promotion of globally accepted compliance standards and best practices with the integration of law enforcement to enhance the quality, rapidity and effectiveness of efforts to prevent and respond to biological dangers.
Some of these actions are best undertaken by governments and some can be best implemented through international government organizations and non-governmental organizations, Rubin said. However, these priority issues should be integrated through a mechanism that links them together and facilitates action toward their goals, for example, through a Global Compact or similar global initiative.
The consensus statement is the result of an October international workshop organized by the Partnership for Global Security and the Landau Network-Centro Volta, two international, non-partisan groups of scientists and policy makers whose mission is greater global security in an age of weapons of mass destruction, biological weapons and terrorism.
The signers of this statement intend to distribute this document at the Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference to be held in December 2008. Following the event, the signers will encourage governments, non-governmental experts and international governmental organizations to begin to act immediately on these priorities.
The statements authors are Rubin; Gerald Epstein and David Heyman, co-directors of the Biological Threat Reduction Forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.; Kenneth Luongo, executive director of the Partnership for Global Security; Maurizio Martellini, secretary general of the Landau Network-Centro Volta; and Barry Kellman, professor of law at DePaul University.
The complete text of the Consensus Statement of Priority Actions for the Promotion of Global Biosecurity" is available at
Results of the October international workshop organized by the Partnership for Global Security and the Landau Network-Centro Volta are available at www.partnershipforglobalsecurity.org/documents/conclusionspdf.