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
The text of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC) was adopted by the Conference on Disarmament on 3 September 1992. The treaty was opened for signature on 13 January 1993.For this reason, the treaty is sometimes referred to as the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. The CWC entered into force on 29 April 1997.
For the purposes of the CWC chemical weapons are defined in Article II(1) (together or separately) as:
(a) Toxic chemicals and their precursors, except where intended for purposes not prohibited under this Convention, as long as the types and quantities are consistent with such purposes;
(b) Munitions and devices, specifically designed to cause death or other harm through the toxic properties of those toxic chemicals specified in subparagraph (a), which would be released as a result of the employment of such munitions and devices;
(c) Any equipment specifically designed for use directly in connection with the employment of munitions and devices specified in subparagraph (b).
'Toxic Chemical' means:
Any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals. This includes all such chemicals, regardless of their origin or of their method of production, and regardless of whether they are produced in facilities, in munitions or elsewhere. (Art. II(2))
In accordance with Article II(9), 'Purposes Not Prohibited Under this Convention' means:
(a) Industrial, agricultural, research, medical, pharmaceutical or other peaceful purposes;
(b) Protective purposes, namely those purposes directly related to protection against toxic chemicals and to protection against chemical weapons;
(c) Military purposes not connected with the use of chemical weapons and not dependent on the use of the toxic properties of chemicals as a method of warfare;
(d) Law enforcement including domestic riot control purposes.
Under Article I(1) of the Convention, each State Party undertakes 'never under any circumstances':
(a) To develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons, or transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons to anyone;
(b) To use chemical weapons;
(c) To engage in any military preparations to use chemical weapons;
(d) To assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under th[e] Convention.
Each State Party further undertakes, pursuant to Article I(2-4), to destroy chemical weapons it owns or possesses, or that are located in any place under its jurisdiction or control, all chemical weapons it abandoned on the territory of another State Party, and any chemical weapons production facilities it owns or possesses, or that are located in any place under its jurisdiction or control, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention.
Riot control agents are defined under Article II(7) as:
Any chemical not listed in a Schedule, which can produce rapidly in humans sensory irritation or disabling physical effects which disappear within a short time following termination of exposure.
[This entry is under construction.]
Last updated on: 15 September 2016