The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is a multilateral treaty that bans chemical weapons and requires their destruction within a specified period of time. The treaty is of unlimited duration and is far more comprehensive than the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which outlaws the use but not the possession of chemical weapons.
CWC negotiations started in 1980 in the UN Conference on Disarmament. The convention opened for signature on January 13, 1993, and entered into force on April 29, 1997.
The CWC is implemented by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is headquartered in The Hague. The OPCW receives states-parties’ declarations detailing chemical weapons related activities and relevant industrial activities. After receiving declarations, the OPCW inspects and monitors states-parties’ facilities and activities that are relevant to the convention, to ensure compliance.
The CWC is open to all nations and currently has 193 states-parties. Israel has signed but has yet to ratify the convention. Three states have neither signed nor ratified the convention (Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan).
The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits:
Developing, producing, acquiring, stockpiling, or retaining chemical weapons.
The direct or indirect transfer of chemical weapons.
Chemical weapons use or military preparation for use.
Assisting, encouraging, or inducing other states to engage in CWC-prohibited activity.
The use of riot control agents “as a method of warfare.”
The CWC requires states-parties to declare in writing to the OPCW their chemical weapons stockpiles, chemical weapons production facilities (CWPFs), relevant chemical industry facilities ( including Other Chemical Production Facilities (OCPF)), and other weapons-related information. This must be done within 30 days of the convention’s entry into force for each member state.
—The CWC requires states-parties to declare chemical industry facilities that produce or use chemicals of concern to the convention. These chemicals are grouped into “schedules,” based on the risk they pose to the convention. A facility producing a Schedule 1 chemical is considered a Schedule 1 facility.
Schedule 1 chemicals and precursors pose a “high risk” to the convention and are rarely used for peaceful purposes. States-parties may not retain these chemicals except in small quantities for research, medical, pharmaceutical, or defensive use. Many Schedule 1 chemicals have been stockpiled as chemical weapons.
Schedule 2 chemicals are toxic chemicals that pose a “significant risk” to the convention and are precursors to the production of Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 chemicals. These chemicals are not produced in large quantities for commercial or other peaceful purposes.
Schedule 3 chemicals are usually produced in large quantities for purposes not prohibited by the CWC but still pose a risk to the convention. Some of these chemicals have been stockpiled as chemical weapons.
The CWC also requires the declaration of facilities that produce certain nonscheduled chemicals.
The convention establishes three types of on-site activities that aim to generate confidence in states-parties’ CWC compliance. These include:
“Routine inspections” of chemical weapons-related facilities and chemical industry facilities to verify the content of declarations and to confirm that activities are consistent with CWC obligations.
“Challenge inspections” which can be conducted at any facility or location in states-parties to clarify questions of possible noncompliance. (To prevent abuse of this measure, the OPCW’s executive body can vote by a three-quarters majority to stop a challenge inspection from going forward.)
Investigations of alleged use of chemical weapons.
The convention encourages trade among states-parties, calling upon them not to maintain restrictions on one another that would hamper the trade of chemical-related items to be used for peaceful purposes. The convention does restrict trade with non-states-parties, outlawing the transfer of Schedule 1 and 2 chemicals. To ensure that Schedule 3 transfers to non-states-parties are not used for purposes prohibited by the convention, the CWC requires exporting states-parties to obtain an end-use certificate from importing states.
Penalties for Noncompliance
If states-parties are found to have engaged in prohibited actions that could result in “serious damage” to the convention, the OPCW could recommend collective punitive measures to other states-parties. In cases of “particular gravity,” the OPCW could bring the issue before the UN Security Council and General Assembly.
States-parties must take measures to address questions raised about their compliance with the CWC. If they do not, the OPCW may, inter alia, restrict or suspend their CWC-related rights and privileges (such as voting and trade rights).
Pakistan is committed to the non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. In pursuance of this commitment, Pakistan has signed Convention on Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) on 13 January 1993 and ratified it on 28 October 1997. This also underscored the significance Pakistan attaches to the multilateral treaty system. The CWC is a unique disarmament instrument that comprehensively bans an entire category of Weapons of Mass Destruction and provides for their elimination in a verifiable and non-discriminatory manner.
National Authority (NA)
In order to ensure smooth implementation of CWC in Pakistan, a National Authority (NA) on CWC has been established in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in August 1997.The organizational structure of NA is as Under:-
Ministries and Organizations that Support NA to implement CWC
Ministry of Finance.
Ministry of Commerce.
Ministry of Industries & Production.
Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination.
Ministry of Climate Change.
Ministry of Science and Technology.
Ministry of Defence.
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Ministry of Interior.
National Disaster Management Authority.
Federal Board of Revenue.
Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.
Cabinet Secretariat, Aviation Division.
Federal Investigation Agency.
Role of National Authority
The role of NA could be summarized as under: –
The NA acts as the national focal point for liaison with the OPCW and other States Parties for the implementation of Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
It is the national policy making organ and the coordinator / facilitator to ensure collection of information/data for further dissemination to all concerned.
The NA ensures compliance of the provisions of the Convention and implementation of CWC in Pakistan through the Presidential Ordinance No. LIV of 2000 and CWC Implementation Rules 2010.