Use of Chemical Weapons

News: The head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons told the UN Security Council that its experts have investigated 77 allegations against Syria, and concluded that in 17 cases chemical weapons were likely or definitely used.

Chemical Weapons:

  • A Chemical Weapon is a chemical used to cause intentional death or harm through its toxic properties.
  • Munitions, devices and other equipment specifically designed to weaponize toxic chemicals also fall under the definition of chemical weapons.

Chemical Weapons Convention:

  • It is a multilateral treaty banning chemical weapons and requiring their destruction within the stipulated time. Negotiations for the CWC began in 1980 at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament.
  • The convention was drafted in September 1992 and opened for signature in January 1993. It became effective from April 1997.
  • It makes it mandatory to destroy old and abandoned chemical weapons. Members should also declare the riot-control agents (sometimes referred to as ‘tear gas’) in possession of them.
  • The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits:
  • Developing, producing, acquiring, stockpiling, or retaining chemical weapons.
  • The direct or indirect transfer of chemical weapons.
  • Chemical weapons use or military preparation for use.
  • Assisting, encouraging, or inducing other states to engage in CWC-prohibited activity.
  • The use of riot control agents “as a method of warfare.”
  • In India, The Chemical Weapons Convention Act, 2000 was passed to implement the CWC. It provided for the establishment of a National Authority for Chemical Weapons Convention or NACWC. This institution, formed in 2005, is the chief liaison between the government of India and the OPCW. It is an office in the Cabinet Secretariat of the GoI.

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons:

  • It is an international organization established by the CWC in 1997 to implement and enforce the terms of the CWC. By the 2001 Relationship Agreement between the OPCW and the UN, the OPCW reports on its inspections and other activities to the UN through the office of the Secretary General.
  • The OPCW was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.
  • It is authorized to perform inspections to verify that signatory states are complying with the convention. This includes a commitment to grant inspectors full access to chemical weapons sites. It also performs testing of sites and victims of suspected chemical weapons attacks. It also provides for assistance to and protection of States attacked or threatened with chemical weapons, cooperation in the peaceful use of chemicals.