The history of the serious efforts to achieve chemical disarmament that culminated in the conclusion of the Chemical Weapons Convention began more than a century ago. Chemical Weapons were used on a massive scale during World War I, resulting in more than 100,000 fatalities and a million casualties.
However, Chemical Weapons were not used on the battleground in Europe in World War II. Following World War II, and with the advent of the nuclear debate, several countries gradually came to the realisation that the marginal value of having Chemical Weapons in their arsenals was limited, while the threat posed by the availability and proliferation of such weapons made a comprehensive ban desirable.
Adopted in 1993, the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force on 29 April 1997. It determined, “for the sake of all mankind, to exclude completely the possibility of the use of chemical weapons.” (Preamble)
The States Parties to this Convention established Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons “to achieve the object and purpose of this Convention, to ensure the implementation of its provisions, including those for international verification of compliance with it, and to provide a forum for consultation and cooperation among States Parties.” (Article VIII)
Today, the OPCW Member States represent about 98% of the global population and landmass, as well as 98% of the worldwide chemical industry.
In 2013, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the OPCW "for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons".