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Chemical Weapon Convention

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) or the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development is an arms control pact that outlaws the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons and on their Destruction. It is headed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an intergovernmental organization.

Headquarter The Hague, The Netherlands
Member states 193
Official languages Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish
Treaty entered into force on 29 April 1997.

Objective of CWC:

  • All destruction activities must take place under OPCW verification.
  • The Chemical Weapons Convention bans the large-scale use, development, production, stockpiling, destruction and transfer of chemical weapons.
  • Very limited production for research, pharmaceutical, medical, or protective purposes is still allowed.

Israel has signed but not ratified the agreement. Three other UN member states (Egypt, North Korea, and South Sudan) have neither signed nor acceded to the treaty. 96% of the world's declared chemical weapons stockpiles had been destroyed (until 2018).
In 1993, when Russia signed the CWC, the country declared that it possessed 40,000 tons of toxic chemicals. Russia has indicated that it will obliterate all of its chemical weapons by the end of 2017 a year earlier than previously announced.

Features of the convention

  • International cooperation in the peaceful use of chemistry in relevant areas
  • Systematic evaluation and Destruction of chemical weapons production facilities
  • Prohibition of production and use of chemical weapons
  • Assistance between State Parties and the OPCW in the case of use of chemical weapons
  • Investigations of allegations of use and production of chemical weapons based on intelligence of other state parties
  • An OPCW inspection regime for the production of chemicals which might be converted to chemical weapons

Organisational structure

  • Conference of the States Parties (CSP)
    The principal body is the Conference of the States Parties (CSP) which normally is convened yearly, and in which all countries can join, with equal voting rights. Countries are generally represented in the conference by a permanent representative to the organisation, which in most cases is also the ambassador to the Netherlands. The conference decides on all the main topics regarding the organisation. For example: taking retaliation measures and the convention approving guidelines, imposing retaliating measures against members
  • The Executive Council (EC)
    EC is the executive organ of the organisation and consists of 41 state parties, which are nominated by the conference on a two-year term. The council amongst others oversees the budget and cooperates with the General Secretariat on all matters related to the convention.
  • The Technical Secretariat (TS)
    TS applies to most of the activities mandated by the council and is the body where most of the employees of the organisation work. The main activities of the OPCW are performed by the inspection and the verification divisions. All states parties make contributions to the OPCW budget, based on a modified UN scale of assessments.


The OPCW has the power to say whether chemical weapons were used in an attack it has investigated. In June 2018, it granted itself new powers to assign blame for attacks.