April 2007   

Special Issue for the 10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the
Chemical Weapons Convention
29 April 2007

UN Photo/Mark Garten - UN Blue Helmet Watches over Unexploded Bombs
OPCW Building

On 29 April 2007 the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) will mark a full decade as the first disarmament agreement negotiated within a multilateral framework providing for the elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction under universally applied international control. Its States parties undertake not to use chemical weapons, nor develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain, or transfer them to anyone. The Convention requires its adherents to destroy all chemical weapons they might possess or might have abandoned in another country, and to destroy any chemical weapons production facilities that they might own or possess, or that are located in any place under their jurisdiction or control. The Convention provides arrangements for verifying compliance with its terms that are unprecedented in scope and stringency.

Read about the Convention

Unveiling of the Memorial to Victims of Chemical Weapons

Permanent Memorial to All Victims of Chemical Weapons
Map of the Memorial

On 9 May 2007 in The Hague,  a Permanent Memorial to All Victims of Chemical Weapons will be unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands on the grounds that house the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The Memorial, an art work by a Dutch sculptor, Ms. Voebe de Gruyter, will consist of a maple tree situated in a dune landscape. The maple tree will carry a solar panel array that will be used as a power source for a webcam. The live video captured by the webcam will be displayed on the Memorial’s website. Granite paving, inscribed with a poem dedicated to the victims of chemical weapons, will be placed around the tree. The artist describes the sculpture as depicting three living trees (the real tree, the crystallized tree, and the constructed tree) in memory of the people who were killed and wounded due to the use of chemical weapons during history and to reaffirm respect for life.

Towards A World Without Chemical Weapons

UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras - Security Council Discusses Weapons of Mass Destruction - Ján Kubis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic and President of the Security Council
Verification in action

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was established in 1997, soon after the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) entered into force, to implement the provisions of the Convention .  The OPCW promotes the universality of the Convention - currently it has 182 Member States and 6 Signatory States, with only 7 States having taken no action on the Convention at all. The Organisation also promotes the national implementation of the CWC; verifies and confirms the destruction of existing chemical weapons; monitors and verifies certain activities in the chemical industry to reduce the risk of commercial chemicals being misused for weapons purposes; provides assistance and protection to Member States against the use or threat of use of chemical weapons, including by terrorists; and promotes international cooperation for peaceful uses of chemistry.

Chemical Weapons Destruction

Chemical Support Training Course

Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, all State Parties have the obligation to destroy all existing chemical weapons and the facilities used for the production of chemical weapons. According to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (as of 28 February 2007):100 per cent of the declared chemical weapons production facilities were destroyed; over 30 per cent of the 8.6 million chemical munitions and containers covered by the Convention and almost a quarter of the world's declared stockpile of approximately 71,000 metric tons of chemical agent have been destroyed by six possessor States under international verification. The possessor States are required to destroy their stockpiles completely before the final deadline 29 April 2012.”

For further information

Chemical Terrorism

Tokyo metro terrirism attack
Victims at a Tokyo
subway station in 1995

The use of chemical weapons by terrorists could have devastating consequences, resulting in many casualties and also causing panic and instability in society. In 1995, the Aum Shinrikyo cult released sarin, a deadly chemical nerve agent in the Tokyo subway in Japan, which killed twelve people and injured a thousand. Most recently there were multiple terrorist bombings using chlorine gas in Iraq, which wounded or sickened hundreds of people. The Chemical Weapons Convention provides States with a legal basis for the fight against the use of chemical weapons by States. With the adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 in 2004, dealing with all weapons of mass destruction, all States are specifically required to refrain from providing any form of support to non-state actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use chemical weapons and their means of delivery, and to adopt and enforce appropriate effective law to this effect. The resolution also required them to establish various types of domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of such weapons.

http://www.opcw.org/ All pictures courtesy of The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons