1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)
of the Convention
of Signatures and deposited ratifications (link to the continually-updated
page on the website of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical
to negotiate a comprehensive global ban on chemical weapons were
based on the 1925 Geneva Protocol which outlawed the use of chemical
and biological weapons. Intergovernmental consideration of a chemical
and biological weapons ban was initiated in 1968 within the Eighteen-Nation
Disarmament Committee (which, after numerous changes of name and
composition, became the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in 1984).
Attention in the first few years became focused on the negotiation
of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, which entered into force
in 1975. Article IX of that treaty included the undertaking to "continue
negotiations in good faith with a view to reaching early agreement"
on the prohibition of chemical weapons.
In 1980 the
negotiators decided to establish what would become the CD Ad Hoc
Committee on Chemical Weapons to "define, through substantive examination,
issues to be dealt with in the negotiations". In 1984 the CD mandated
the committee to begin negotiating a chemical weapons ban and in
that year the committee began drafting a convention by way of a
"rolling text", the first time this negotiating method had been
used in a disarmament treaty. The changing international political
climate in the late 1980s and early 1990s allowed the committee
to make much progress. The use of chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq
war, and the possibility of their use in the Gulf War gave added
impetus to the negotiations.
On 3 September
1992 the CD submitted to the United Nations General Assembly its
annual report, which contained the text of the Chemical Weapons
Convention, the full title of which is Convention on the Prohibition
of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical
Weapons and on Their Destruction. The General Assembly commended
the Convention in its resolution of 30 November 1992 (A/RES/47/39).
The United Nations Secretary-General then opened the Convention
for signature in Paris on 13 January 1993. The CWC remained open
for signature until its entry into force on 29 April 1997, 180 days
after the deposit of the 65th instrument of ratification (by Hungary).
The CWC not
only bans the use of chemical weapons, but unlike the Geneva Protocol
also bans their development, production, stockpiling and transfer
and requires that all existing stocks of chemical weapons be destroyed
within 10 years. Like the BWC, the CWC is also underpinned by a
"general purpose criterion" which defines the substances to which
its prohibitions apply. According to Article VI of the CWC, states
parties must adopt measures to ensure that toxic chemicals and their
precursors are only used for purposes not prohibited by the Convention.
The general purpose criterion allows the Convention to keep up with
technological change and, in the case of dual-use chemicals, to
exempt application for peaceful purposes from its prohibitions.
The Convention lists 43 chemicals and families of chemicals for
the application of special procedures, but, by virtue of the general
purpose criterion, the prohibitions of the treaty are not restricted
contrast to the BWC, the CWC includes extremely detailed provisions
for the compliance verification and establishes an international
organization, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
(OPCW), to oversee their application. The OPCW is based in The Hague
and has a staff of approximately 500. The Organizationís principal
body, the Conference of the States Parties meets annually, usually
in May, while its governing body, the Executive Council, generally
The CWC consists
of 24 main articles and three annexes. Article I outlines the basic
prohibitions of the treaty. Article II includes definitions of various
terms used throughout the CWC. Article III obliges states parties
to submit declarations of their past programmes, including information
on current holdings of chemical weapons and production facilities.
Articles IV and V lay out states partiesí responsibilities with
regard to chemical weapons and their production facilities. Article
VI requires states parties to allow a degree of verification of
chemical industry facilities working with certain "dual-use" chemicals.
Article VII contains rules to facilitate the implementation of the
CWC by each state party. Article VIII establishes the OPCW and defines
the powers and functions of its three constituent organs - the Conference
of the States Parties, the Executive Council and the Technical Secretariat.
Article IX details procedures through which states parties can resolve
any questions related to non-compliance which they may have. Article
X gives states parties the right to develop protective programmes
against the use of chemical weapons and outlines assistance which
can be provided by the OPCW, also in the event of an attack by chemical
weapons. Article XI states that the CWC should not inhibit the economic
and technological development of states parties or hamper free trade
in chemicals and related technology and information. Article XII
includes measures to redress a situation of non-compliance, including
sanctions. The remaining 12 articles are shorter and deal with legal
issues such as the CWCís relationship to other international agreements,
settlement of disputes, amendments, duration and withdrawal, status
of the annexes, ways in which states can join the Convention and
the way in which it comes into force, reservations and the depositary.
The three annexes
- on chemicals, on implementation and verification and on the protection
of confidential information - are an integral part of the CWC. The
annex on chemicals lists in three schedules 43 chemicals and families
of chemicals which were selected for the application of special
verification procedures. The annex on implementation and verification
provides great detail on the conduct of the CWCís verification provisions,
from declarations and inspections to challenge inspections and investigations
of alleged use. The annex on the protection of confidential information
sets out principles for the handling of confidential information,
measures to protect sensitive installations and data during inspections
and procedures in case of breaches of confidentiality.
The first CWC
review conference took place in May 2003 in The Hague and the second review conference in April 2008. Subsequent
review conferences will take place at five-yearly intervals.