The Encyclopedia is a project of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights launched on 2 December 2013. The Enyclopedia aims to provide accurate, up-to-date information on weapons, the effects of their use, and their regulation under public international law, in a format that is accessible to non-specialists.+ Find out more
According to the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention, the term chemical weapon applies to any toxic chemical or its precursor that can cause death, injury, temporary incapacitation, or sensory irritation through its chemical action. Munitions or other delivery devices designed to deliver chemical weapons, whether filled or unfilled, are also considered weapons themselves.
Toxic chemicals used or developed for use as chemical weapons are categorised as choking, blister, blood, or nerve agents. According to the Organisation for the Prohibition on Chemical Weapons, the most well known agents are as follows: choking agents (e.g. chlorine and phosgene), blister agents (or vesicants) (e.g. mustard gas and lewisite); blood agents (e.g. hydrogen cyanide); and nerve agents (e.g. sarin, soman, and VX).
Toxic chemicals and/or their precursors which are used in industry are only considered chemical weapons if they are produced and stockpiled in amounts that exceed requirements for purposes not prohibited under the Convention.
Last updated on: 30 November 2013