The Chemical Weapons Convention

Presenter - Walter Dorn

Excerpt from "Arms Control in the 1990s: Proceedings of a Workshop on Chemical Weapons, Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control in Outer Space," Peter Brogden (ed.), Aurora Papers 22, Canadian Centre for Global Security, Ottawa, 1994. The workshop was held at Oakham House, Ryerson Polytechnic University on 29 May 1993. (The presentation was accompanied by slides.)



I am going to outline the story of chemical weapons (CW) and their control—the story of a modern problem and the development of a modern solution. I will also relate some of my personal experiences as a witness to and at times participant in the development of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The Convention, which provides for a comprehensive ban on chemical weapons, was finally opened for signature less than a half-year ago, after almost a quarter century of negotiations.

The story of chemical weapons in modern times, however, begins in a rather gruesome way with World War I. CW were unleashed on soldiers on the Western Front by the German Army at Ypres on April 22, 1915. Canadian soldiers were among the first of over a million casualties from CW in that war.

During a CW or "gas" attack, a soldier in the trenches might see an ominous cloud moving towards him, sometimes bringing a sweet smell, sometimes colourless and odourless, depending on the type of gas. Upon contact, his eyes might start burning, blisters may form on the skin, followed by nausea, vomiting, pulmonary damage and, quite possibly, death. Eighty percent of the gas fatalities in World War I were due to phosgene, a chemical which attacks the lungs. Other chemicals used include mustard gas, hydrogen cyanide and chlorine gas. The original methods of delivery were crude, for instance, simple release from the top of a gas canister with the wind acting as the carrier to the enemy (as long as it didn't change direction!). Piping was soon used to carry the gas for release in no man's land between the opposing trenches. Huge quantities of chemical agents were brought to the front in train/tanker loads. By the end of the war, hundreds of thousands of tons of chemical agents had been produced and released into the atmosphere. Apparently, the military planners at that time had no respect for environmental preservation!

The experience of chemical warfare made such an impression upon the citizens of all nations that after the war there was an outcry to prohibit that means of warfare. A Conference for the International Supervision of the International Trade in Arms and Ammunition and in the Implements of War was called by the League of Nations, itself an institution created out of the horror of the World War I. The Conference was held in 1925 in Geneva, the site of the headquarters of the League. While the diplomats did not come to an agreement on the supervision of the arms trade (a problem which remains unsolved to this day), they did agree with relative ease to an agreement to ban the use in war of CW. The Geneva Protocol was signed in June 1925 and today it remains one of the pillars of arms control, though it is now largely superseded by the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The original copy of the 1925 Geneva Protocol was displayed by the French government (the Protocol's depositary) at the January 1993 signing ceremony of the CWC in Paris. The Protocol is a simple document with only a few substantive sentences, declaring as it does that the use in war of poisonous gases and similar weapons "has been justly condemned by the general opinion of the civilized world" and expressly prohibiting it and extending this prohibition to bacteriological (biological) weapons. The Protocol is only one page in length and it contains no verification provisions. By contrast, the CWC is one hundred and seventy-two pages long and most of it details an elaborate verification system. I think that this is a measure of solid progress in our implementation of international law.

Even though most nations had signed and ratified the Geneva Protocol by the mid-1930s1  many nations maintained chemical warfare preparedness programs and even stockpiled chemical agents. This included Germany and states who became the World War II Allies. Biological weapons were also being developed. In Canada, a large project during World War II was led by Frederick Banting, of Banting and Best fame.

In the pictures I am showing, we see German soldiers preparing CW delivery vehicles and German military academies holding training sessions to practice how to wash up streets after a CW attack. Many posters appeared on the streets of London in 1939 warning the British population to acquire and learn how to use gas masks. During the 1991 Gulf War similar warnings could be seen in Israel.

Chemical warfare did not take place in World War II. There are still debates about the reasons why but I think that it is fair to say that the Geneva Protocol, as an expression of universal revulsion against chemical warfare was a factor, if not the dominant factor. I could also mention that Adolf Hitler was blinded for over a month near the end of World War I, due to the effects of CW. He wrote in his book "Mein Kampf" that it was during that period of intense suffering and darkness that he "discovered his destiny". Perhaps, he realised that CW was far from a decisive military factor in battle, as had proved to be the case in World War I. Soldiers of all periods abhorred CW, even the Romans had said that chemicals were to be used for killing rodents and not for fighting wars.

Still, during the interwar period much research was being done on CW, in a kind of arms race. Like the recent race in nuclear weapons, no one relished the thought of using such weapons but both sides felt obliged to develop them. It was in this pre-War period that German researchers discovered a new type of CW, the so-called nerve agents. These were two orders of magnitude more effective (in deadly dose) than the previous agents. The Japanese also sponsored a significant CW program, which included testing various new agents on human subjects, particularly Chinese prisoners, in an episode that Japan would like to forget.

After World War II, CW research and development became part of the arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States. While Germany was now prohibited from acquiring chemical and nuclear weapons, the superpower arms race had a significant chemical (and, of course, nuclear) dimension. We can note the following military and other negative developments:

  • Artillery and rocket-propelled grenades filled with CW.
  • Missiles with CW warheads.
  • During the Korean War, China and North Korea accused the US/UN forces of using CW. However, the accusers were unwilling to allow objective international inspections to verify the truth or falsity of the accusations.
  • During the Vietnam War, the US used herbicides (Agent Orange, for example) on a wide scale and was condemned by many for this. There were efforts to reach a ban of CW in the Geneva negotiations at the end of that war but these failed due to unsolved problems of verification.
  • Iraq used CW against Iran many times during the first Gulf War (1980-88) in violation of its Geneva Protocol commitments (Iraq had ratified the Protocol in 1931). This CW use by Iraq was independently verified by the UN Secretary-General. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein also used CW against the Kurdish people in his country, the best documented incident having occurred in March 1987 at Halabja, where virtually the entire citizenry was poisoned.
  • In the mid-1980s during the peak of Cold War paranoia, the Soviet Union was accused of having stockpiled over 300,000 tons of CW agents. 2
  • US began production of binary CW warheads. 3 This technology poses severe problems for CW verification, since the precursors themselves may be harmless and thus can be stored and hidden more easily, without the protective casing and precautions normally required for CW.
  • Iraq, Libya and several other countries built CW production facilities with the aid of over-zealous exporters in the West.


On the positive side, events which contributed to arms control include:

  • Formation of the United Nations in 1945 with a mandate to negotiate disarmament and a stronger will to achieve collective security than the League of Nations was ever able to demonstrate.
  • Cessation of atmospheric nuclear tests in the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) and the acceptance of limited verification measures (i.e., non-intrusive national technical means (NTM) of observation such as satellite surveillance).
  • A United Nations study on chemical and biological weapons was completed in 1969, which provided a concise summary of the characteristics and dangers of these weapons. 4
  • The Conference on Disarmament (CD), the name we currently use for the Geneva-based multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, began formal discussions on CW control in 1968.
  • The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWTC) of 1972, negotiated in the CD, banned possession of biological weapons (BW) and despite its lack of verification provisions, did have a restraining influence on states.
  • A rudimentary verification system for the Geneva Protocol was created by the UN General Assembly in a series of resolutions beginning in 1982. The Assembly requested the Secretary-General to investigate alleged violations of the Protocol.
  • The so-called Australia Group was created in 1984 with a mandate to coordinate export controls among "Western" nations for CW precursors,5  to make CW production more difficult.
  • The 1991 Paris conference on CW with some 150 nations participating, mostly at the Foreign Minister level, gave a much needed impetus to the CD negotiations in Geneva. The Soviet Union promised unilaterally to start destroying its CW stockpile.
  • The 1989 Government-Industry Conference Against CW was held in Canberra to increase cooperation between the world's governments and chemical industries in developing an effective yet tolerable control regime for CW.
  • Finland and a few other countries began research programs on CW detection for arms control purposes.
  • Involvement by many NGOs (Pugwash, SfP, VOW) in pressing governments for action.


Progress at the CD

On September 3rd 1992, the "rolling text" of the CWC, which had been "rolling along" in the CD for nearly a decade, was finalized and sent to the UN General Assembly for approval. The General Assembly requested the UN Secretary-General to open it for signature on January 13th 1993. During the Paris signing ceremony, January 13-15, 130 states signed.

The CWC is a comprehensive disarmament treaty. It bans the development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of CW and provides for the destruction of existing stockpiles. It also incorporates provisions for the most advanced and intrusive international verification system ever. This system provides a model for agreements in other areas of international law, including human rights and environmental treaties.

The treaty defines CW as toxic chemicals and delivery systems which can cause death or harm to humans and animals, except where intended for purposes not prohibited by the convention. Thus chemicals designed to destroy plants fall outside the domain of the Convention, unless they harm animals or humans as well. The definition further states all such toxic chemicals are included, regardless of their origin. Thus toxins, which are poisons produced by bacteria and fungi, are covered by the Convention.

In the early 1980s, the US alleged that toxins were used in South East Asia by communist forces. However, the Secretary General's teams were unable to verify that toxins were used and an alternative hypothesis was put forward by Professor Meselson of Harvard University. He suggested that the toxins that were falling from the sky were actually bee feces.


Q - Doug Scott:

Could you tell us a little bit more about what makes a toxin a toxin?


R - Dorn:

Toxins are chemical agents which are produced by biological organisms, by living systems. Bacteria and fungi may produce toxins. These toxins can be very deadly, because nature has had millennia to develop these agents to protect the biological organisms which produce them. Toxins can be very lethal to human beings and to other organisms.


Q - Doug Scott:

A non-toxin chemical weapon, what would that be?


R - Dorn:

That would be an agent which is not produced by a biological system. It is something which is produced through chemical reactions in chemical laboratories or factories. Examples of deadly chemical weapons include VX, mustard gas and chlorine which can be produced from standard laboratory chemicals. It is possible to produce toxins in the laboratory but they are not simple reactions like other chemicals. It is much easier to produce them using living organisms like bacteria and fungi.


Q - Doug Scott:

I am just wondering why toxins have to be dealt with separately. I mean why not regard them as just another CW agent?


R - Dorn:

They are in the Convention and they are treated as CW. Two of them are explicitly mentioned, Ricin and Saxitoxin, which are listed under Schedule 2. One of the reasons why toxins are often considered differently from other toxic chemicals is that they were also included in the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention so there is already a prohibition on the development, production, and use of toxins. Thus they can be considered separately in terms of arms control in some instances.


Canadian Contributions to the CWC

First, it was under Canadian chairmanship that the CD first achieved a mandate for formal negotiations on the CWC in 1983. Second in my mind, was the role Canada played in helping the Bush administration move away from an absurd position that it took in August 1991. Despite the fact that in 1984, then Vice-President George Bush had proposed to the CD a very intrusive inspection regime of "anytime, anywhere" inspections, the US subsequently rejected this kind of transparency when the prospects for a CWC became realistic. In 1984, one could be reasonably certain that the Soviets would reject proposals for that degree of transparency. When the Soviets accepted, it became apparent that the American military was not willing. Well, Canada protested and the US did shift back. In the end, a system of "managed access" was incorporated into the Convention, with inspections permitted at any site within a signatory state but not necessarily within every location at a site.

Canada has also been publishing compilations of the proceedings of the CD meetings. This has proven helpful to both the negotiators and those, like me, researching the topic. Canada also published various papers on chemical weapons control, including a handbook for the investigation of alleged use of CW. This handbook is indeed very handy, it lists a great many chemical agents, their properties, the toxicology, the cautions, the first aid and the therapies. It was a product of the verification research program in the [Canadian] Department of External Affairs. Also under that program, a trichothecene mycotoxin sensors kit was developed for detection of toxins, based on an ELISA technique. One negative Canadian activity was that CW testing had been done at Suffield on human subjects - albeit volunteers. The Canadian newspapers got hold of this and to deal with the problem, the Minister of National Defence requested an investigation by William Barton, a former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations. The resulting Barton Report recommended that a committee be set up to review, on an on-going basis, the recommendations of the report and the status of research in Canada. Clive Holloway has been serving on the committee, known as the Biological and Chemical Defence Review Committee (BCDRC), for the last three or four years and has just become its Chair. A group of us from Science for Peace will be making a presentation about our concerns to that committee on Monday, June 1st.

Industry has been very keen to portray themselves as the advocates of goodness, seeing as they have enough of an image problem with environmental pollution. Their role has been quite constructive in re cent years. In the mid to late '80s there were worries among arms controllers that industry insistence on business confidentiality would hold up negotiations, but chemical industries world-wide, as represented by the various regional consortia, have made an effort to allay such fears. There is currently an International Centre for Support of the Chemical Weapons Convention which will hopefully become a means for industry to assist in the development of this new CW inspection regime.


The Role of NGOs

In discussing the NGO contribution to CW control, some auto-biographical material may slip in here because I became indirectly and also directly involved in the negotiations and the signature and ratification process of the treaty. I might also add that the late George Ignatieff, a former president of Science for Peace, who has served as Ambassador to the CD as well as Ambassador to the UN, was one of the negotiators of the Biological Weapons Convention. He said at our 1989 Workshop on the Control of Chemical and Biological Weapons that after the use of CW in Vietnam many diplomats thought there was an opportunity to ban both chemical and biological weapons but the United States resisted, using the argument that there was no effective way to verify a CW ban. In 1972, with the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, only biological weapons were banned, which were harder to verify but deemed less militarily threatening. Unfortunately George Ignatieff passed away before he could see the completion of CWC negotiations in which he had participated at an early stage in the CD.

As an example of what NGOs can do, I would like to relate how an important and novel compliance provision was first proposed and subsequently came to be included in the rolling text of the CWC in 1990. For several years, the Markland Policy Group, which is an NGO created by SfP member Doug Scott, has been studying means of promoting compliance with arms control treaties and the anticipated CWC in particular. One means which had not been employed in arms control treaties was what we called "domestic treaty legislation". We published this idea in various workshop proceedings and in 1989, in the book "Disarmament's Missing Dimension". 6

We recommended that, on ratification of the convention (and other arms control treaties) each state's parliament be required to enact penal legislation binding on all persons including all government and military personnel. Our book was the first time that this idea had been proposed for arms control. We saw it as a means to help enforce the treaty by using the enforcement powers of domestic law. Copies of the 1989 conference proceedings and the 1990 book were sent to selected members of the CD and in late 1990 the rolling text stipulated that signatory states must pass such domestic legislation binding on all persons.

I know that some of you have asked about my recent activities relating to arms control and the CWC, so I will give a brief outline. I have been pleased to participate meetings of the Markland Policy Group since 1986, when we started examining the draft texts of the CWC and studying arms control compliance systems in general. I was also keen, as UN Representative of Science for Peace, to promote the establishment of a UN satellite monitoring system and a UN verification agency. In 1988, Professor Derek Paul and I presented some of these proposals in speeches to the General Assembly's Special Session on Disarmament. Although such agencies have not been established yet (we're still working on that), verification of disarmament has become a primary activity of the UN. A particular case in point is the verification of disarmament of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons systems in Iraq. We see objective verification of disarmament as being a natural role for the UN, second only to its role in promoting treaty negotiations.

In April of last year, I accepted a job at Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), which is an organization of about 700 Members of Parliament from over 65 countries, based in New York. PGA had received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to start a new programme in arms control verification and I was invited to coordinate and put flesh to the proposed programme. Just after I had agreed over the phone, it was suggested that I travel immediately to The Hague to attend a symposium on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). At the time, before the treaty was completed, there was a competition between Vienna, Geneva and The Hague to be the home of the headquarters of the new organization. The Dutch were very eager to achieve the goal and the conference was held in their most important hall, the Ridderzaal. It was there that I had the opportunity to meet the chief negotiators of the Convention and to begin to think about the parliamentary role in the implementation of the Convention. Once back in New York, I was fortunate to find two very capable individuals to help me set up a parliamentary network on arms control verification. When the CWC was becoming a reality, we began organizing a Parliamentary Symposium on the Convention in Paris, to run in parallel with the signing ceremony of the treaty. The UN Secretary-General opened the treaty for signature on January 13th 1993 and 130 nations signed it over the next three days. In Paris, we developed a parliamentary declaration in support of the Convention and a statement on the role of parliamentarians in the implementation of the treaty. 7

At the conclusion of the Paris signing ceremony, I had a very pleasant experience. The director of the treaty section of the UN, who was very helpful in getting us our places at the signing ceremony, said to me at the end of the ceremony, "Oh! Mr. Dorn, I am in big trouble, I cannot carry the Convention down to the taxi. It's too heavy." So I had the honour of carrying the Convention document out to the taxi on January 15th, at the beginning of its journey to New York. It was about a foot thick with all six languages included and the special paper used for the signatures. There were one hundred and thirty signatories in Paris and there have been over a dozen signatories since then.

Following the ceremony in Paris I made a tour of selected European capitals, speaking at parliaments about the ratification of the Convention and some of the other key implementation issues. Somehow, it was usually members of the opposition parties who sponsored my talks, although the organization (PGA) is bi-partisan and the parliamentarians in attendance were from various political parties. Some of the key issues we discussed were where to house the National Authority8  and how to make sure that the departments of industry and trade fully promoted any export restrictions.

While in Vienna, I delivered a paper on my other favorite area: developing UN fact-finding expertise for early warning and preventive diplomacy. I also visited the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) to discuss the possibilities of an article comparing the OPCW to the IAEA. 9

My experience at PGA came full circle when I re turned to The Hague for the first meeting of the Preparatory Commission. The PrepComm was set up in Paris to oversee preparations for the implementation of the Convention. One of its tasks was to consider the domestic implementation and penal legislation provisions of the Convention. Now the Markland Group is busy providing input to the PrepComm and I was pleased to hear that an Index to the Convention that I had prepared was being circulated and used in PrepComm committees.10  The Hague, having won the seat of the future OPCW, is now building a Peace Tower in which the Organization will reside. This will complement the Peace Palace which houses the International Court of Justice.


The Terms of the Convention

The first article of the convention says that you cannot develop, produce or stockpile CW and calls for the destruction of current stockpiles and prohibits the transfer of CW. The new agency (the OPCW) that is being formed has three main bodies, the Conference of States Parties, the Executive Council and the Technical Secretariat. Figure 1 shows the structure and Appendices A and B give more details.


One of the most important features of the CWC is the compliance system, which includes measures for data collection through on-site inspection, data evaluation by officials in the Technical Secretariat and consultation with the Inspected State Party and other signatories. Finally, there is some allusion to a response to non-compliance: referral to the Security Council. None of the previous arms control treaties had such elaborate provisions for verification and compliance. The Geneva Protocol had none of these, although in the 1980s the UN General Assembly gave the Secretary-General the mandate to investigate the use of CW, which is an unsystematic means of verification of the Protocol. Under the bilateral arms control treaties there were some methods for data collection, namely NTM, but there were no means for independent analysis of the data outside of the interested parties. The bilateral treaties have consultative mechanisms, like the Standing Consultative Commission (SCC) of the SALT treaties, but again, this only involved the two parties. Finally, the bilateral treaties have little in the way of a response mechanism.

Under the CWC we have data collection by an international agency and we have evaluation of the data by the international agency, the OPCW. There still remains some question as to whether the OPCW can pass judgment if non-compliance has or has not occurred. The US does not support this view although a reading of the text would tend to show that the OPCW does have this authority. In fact, it will be experience that determines how this delicate question is handled. The response mechanism is very weak. The treaty says that the delinquent party can loose its vote and that unspecified collective measures can be taken. The word sanctions appears once in the CWC, in the title of Chapter XII, but it does not actually appear in the text of that chapter nor anywhere else in the Convention.

Now that the treaty to ban CW has been signed and is probably to enter into force in 1995, hopefully, we have a happy ending to a rather sad story. The last chapter of this story has yet to be written but by providing for public education and discussion on this topic, perhaps we are helping to produce an excellent final chapter.


Structure of the Organization

Figure 1: Structure of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (Based on Fig. 2 of "Disarmament's Missing Dimension: A UN Agency to Administer Multilateral Treaties", Science for Peace/Samuel Stevens, Toronto, 1990. Reproduced with permission.)


Questions and Responses

Q - Richard Kapp:

How many states have not yet signed the treaty?

R -Dorn:

Approximately forty states, though some of those are the very small states. There are one hundred and eighty two members of the United Nations and about a hundred and forty two signatories to the Convention. The important thing is to see who has not signed the Convention, who has CW and who may be possible violators of the spirit of the Convention. One might list Libya, North Korea, Vietnam, Syria. Egypt also is thought to possess CW. The Arab states wanted to go as a block to Paris saying that none of them were prepared to sign the Convention unless Israel makes some moves towards nuclear disarmament and nuclear arms control. It turned out that some Arab states broke ranks and about five of them signed the CWC in Paris and another four or five have signed since then, in New York. I don't believe that Egypt will hang back for too long. Syria and Libya are more important questions. Iraq has not signed though many of us thought that it would be very wise for Iraq to sign because the verification provisions of the CWC are much more lenient than those currently in place under the Security Council resolutions.

I might just add to that, we are talking now only about nations which have signed the Convention. The Convention does not come into operation until sixty-five countries have actually ratified it through their national parliaments and not earlier than two years after the signature, in January of 1995. Only a half dozen states have ratified the treaty to the present date. Most experts do not see a problem in getting the required number of ratifications, though there may be important hold-outs.

Q - Trudy Dorn:

When one country introduced chemical weapons in the First World War, did the others follow?


R - Richard Kapp:

When one country introduces these weapons, usually the other country is able to use its own industrial base to produce its own comparable chemical weapons to retaliate. While the Germans introduced it, the allies were able to respond.


R - Walter Dorn:

I saw the figures for World War I. The Germans produced roughly a hundred and fifty thousand tons, France and Britain were about fifty thousand tons each. So if you look to the totals, you would see that all the Allies together probably produced as much as Germany did.


Q - Dominick Jenkins:

You talk about the "final chapter" and that is something I have an immense problem with. Because it seems to me that is a story about men getting wiser and then we come to the end of this story. I just do not believe it and I think that it is a mistake to write the story that way. It seems to me that if you look at the actual history of CW in the United States you find that it is not a history of science being corrupted and then returning to its true course, when science dissociates itself from these weapons. It is not a story with a nice beginning and an end which ties everything up neatly. Instead, it is a history in which scientists were not corrupted by but actually advocated the adoption of CW and continued to do so after the First World War. That is very important, it is very important for Science for Peace, because in terms of getting a high level of scientific concern about this issue you need to say that there is a fundamental responsibility that comes from scientists actively deciding to develop CW. That is going to be very important for the future, there is no final chapter, it is not a story of us getting wiser.


R - Walter Dorn:

Of course, when I say final chapter, it is allegorical. But I like to think that we did write a final chapter to slavery. Even though there may be remnants of slavery in some parts of the world, you could easily talk about the abolition of slavery in most of the world. I would say that we are now in the second to final chapter, describing our current efforts to implement a global ban on CW, though the CWC. The final chapter would then review how successful we had been in coming decades and centuries. I would like to think that in comparison with the volumes you can write about CW in the two world wars, the likelihood of large or small scale use of CW will be very much smaller in the future because of the CWC.



A -Background to the CWC

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is the most elaborate and complex multilateral disarmament treaty ever signed. The CWC supplements the existing treaty known as the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which bans only the use in war of chemical weapons. The new Convention:

1. requires the destruction of all existing stockpiles of chemical weapons,
2. bans the production and transfer of chemical weapons,
3. imposes restraints on the production and transfer of dual-use chemical substances that are capable of being used for chemical weapons.

The treaty has now been signed by over 140 states since it was opened for signature on January 13, 1993. However, it will not enter into force until it is ratified by 65 nations and in any case, not before January 13, 1995.


The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

The CWC will be administered by an international body to be known as the OPCW. This body is to consist of three organs:

  • The Conference of the States Parties
  • The Executive Council
  • The Technical Secretariat


The Conference of the States Parties (CSP)

This body is to be the "principal organ of the Organization" and all States Parties will have one representative in the CSP. It will make decisions by two thirds majority on matters of substance and simple majority on procedural matters.


The Executive Council of the OPCW (EC)

This body will be the "executive organ of the CSP, to which it shall be responsible". The method of choosing the members of the EC represents a new experiment in international organization. There are no vetoes and there are "quasi-permanent seats" for those states with the most significant chemical industries.


The Technical Secretariat (TS)

This organ of the OPCW will provide "administrative and technical support" to the CSP, the EC and other subsidiary organs. It will include an inspectorate which will send out inspectors to conduct on-site inspections (OSI) in chemical and other facilities in states parties.


The Director-General (DG)

The DG is the head and chief administrative officer of the TS. The DG is appointed by the CSP upon the recommendation of the EC for a term of four years, renewable once but not further.


The Requesting/Inspected State Party

The compliance provisions in the CWC are based on the assumption that, in the case of a possible violation at a suspected site, there will be at least one State Party that will request the OPCW to take certain steps to obtain additional information from the suspected party and request the TS to conduct a short-notice or challenge inspection. The State Party making these requests is referred to in the CWC as the "Requesting State Party". The State Party that is the subject of an inspection is, naturally, the "Inspected State Party".


Challenge Inspections

In the 1980s, many of the negotiating parties at the CD expressed the wish that the CWC include a procedure that would allow the Requesting State Party, in particularly urgent situations, to call upon the TS to conduct a special type of inspection "anytime, anywhere and on short notice". However, the US which originally proposed such inspections, backed away after considering the perceived national security risks to themselves. The final compromise achieved was short-notice inspections at any site using a technique of managed access, where the inspectors may have to negotiate to observe certain areas within a site. Still, this level of intrusive inspection is unprecedented in a multilateral treaty.


International Court of Justice (IJC)

Sometimes referred to as the World Court this body sitting at The Hague hears cases where the Parties are either governments, the UN or one of its agencies. It is given a limited role under the Convention: it may be requested to provide advisory opinions and states parties may bring disputes to it.


International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

This body was created in 1957 and many years later was given responsibility for administering certain aspects of nuclear arms control treaties, including the NPT. From its headquarters in Vienna, it sends inspectors to all declared nuclear facilities of the various treaty parties. Hopefully, it will work closely with the OPCW. 12


B - Summary of the CWC's Compliance Provisions

The treaty contains the widest range of measures to promote compliance of any arms control treaty to date, including:

1. Regular Reporting: states must make many declarations about their production and stockpiling of certain chemicals. These declarations will be reviewed by the Technical Secretariat. (Articles IV.10, V.11 and VI.1)

2. Challenge Inspections: a state may request the TS to make a short notice inspection of any site within a suspected state party. (Article IX and Annex II)

3. Rectification Measures: the EC is authorised to request a suspected State Party to rectify a presumed violation. (Article VII.20(d), Article VII.20)

4. Persuasion Measures: the CSP and the UN Security Council are authorized to recommend and impose, respectively, measures such as economic sanctions with a view to persuading the Respondent State Party to rectify a presumed violation. (Article XII, Articles VIII.20(d) and XII.4; UN Charter: Chapter VII)

5. Enacting Legislation: States Parties are required to enact penal legislation making it a violation of national law for any person to violate the provisions of the CWC. This is in addition to implementing legislation which is necessary to allow the government to meet its other requirements (e.g., establishment of a National Authority). (Article VII.1)

6. National Authority: each State Party must designate or establish a National Authority to oversee implementation of the Convention within the state and to cooperate with the OPCW. (Article VII.6)

7. Dispute Resolution: disputes may be referred to the ICJ by mutual consent. (Article XVI)

8. Assistance Against CW: assistance is to be rendered by the OPCW to any State Party which is threatened with a CW attack. This includes, for instance, the provision of expertise and material for defence against CW attack. (Article X)

9. Development Assistance: there are a few measures which are designed to assist with economic and technological development e.g., loosening of national export laws on chemicals that can be used for peaceful purposes. (Article XI)

10. Disincentive Measures: restrictions and disincentives for countries who, after a reasonable time, choose to remain outside the Convention. (See CD/PV.602, p.8)

11. Prerequisite for Withdrawal: ninety days notice must be given before withdrawal and this must only be in cases of jeopardizing supreme interests. (Article XV)



1  Canada ratified the Geneva Protocol in 1930. The United States ratified it in 1975, fifty years after signing the treaty.

2  By contrast, in 1990 the Soviets declared that their arsenal was less than 50,000 tons.

3  In a binary warhead, two non-toxic precursors are caused to react by triggering a "bursting disc" during flight. Production was begun by the Reagan Administration in December 1987, but was cancelled a few years later after US-Soviet relations had improved and the Soviet army could no longer be shown to be as threatening.

4  The study team was chaired by William Epstein who is familiar to a number of us here and who remains a devoted advocate of disarmament. He is currently working at UNITAR as a senior research officer.

5  Chemicals used in intermediate stages of the production of CW.

6  Published by Science for Peace - Ed.

7  Over 1000 parliamentarians from around the world had signed the declaration by the end of 1993 - Ed.

8  For the role of the National Authority, see Appendix A.

9  This article, co-authored with A. Rolya, appeared in the IAEA Bulletin 3/1993.

10  A. Walter Dorn, Index to the Chemical Weapons Convention, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), Geneva, 1993.

11  Prepared by Walter Dorn based on the work of Doug Scott.

12  See A. Walter Dorn and A. Rolya, "The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the IAEA: A Comparative Overview", IAEA Bulletin, 3/1993, P. 44.