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Sitting on the boundary: the role of reports in investigations into alleged use

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-09, 19:30 authored by Caitriona McLeish, Joshua HuttonJoshua Hutton
Concerns that biological weapons will be used has focused attention on the need to develop a capability to independently investigate any allegation of use. The United Nations Secretary-General’s Mechanism is one such tool, and efforts to revitalize and strengthen it have acknowledged a wide range of technical difficulties to overcome. This article emphasizes another aspect of the investigatory process: communicating the findings of an investigation. The article frames the investigation report as more than a technical recounting of what the investigators did and found, regarding it instead as the means by which the policy-making audience “makes sense” of the allegation. Drawing on literatures associated with science policy and “boundary objects,” the article reflects on the guidance provided thus far and suggests there has been an implicit move toward seeing the reports as “boundary documents.” The suggestion made here is that this implicit recognition should be now made explicit so that the critical position of the report is better appreciated. This has implications for the training of rostered experts.


Publication status

  • Published

File Version

  • Submitted version


The Nonproliferation Review




Taylor & Francis

Department affiliated with

  • SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit Publications

Research groups affiliated with

  • Harvard Sussex Program Publications

Full text available

  • Yes

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


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