Chemical Weapons Convention

The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (the Chemical Weapons Convention or CWC), is comprised of a Preamble, 24 Articles, and 3 Annexes — the Annex on Chemicals, the Verification Annex, and the Confidentiality Annex.

The Convention aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by States Parties. States Parties, in turn, must take the steps necessary to enforce that prohibition in respect of persons (natural or legal) within their jurisdiction. 

All States Parties have agreed to chemically disarm by destroying any stockpiles of chemical weapons they may hold and any facilities which produced them, as well as any chemical weapons they abandoned on the territory of other States Parties in the past. States Parties have also agreed to create a verification regime for certain toxic chemicals and their precursors (listed in Schedules 1, 2 and 3 in the Annex on Chemicals) in order to ensure that such chemicals are only used for purposes not prohibited under the Convention. 

A unique feature of the Convention is its incorporation of the ‘challenge inspection’, whereby any State Party in doubt about another State Party’s compliance can request a surprise inspection. Under the Convention’s ‘challenge inspection’ procedure, States Parties have committed themselves to the principle of ‘any time, anywhere’ inspections with no right of refusal.

Article I – General Obligations

Article I sets out the general obligations of each State Party under the Convention

Article II – Definitions and Criteria

Article II sets out the definitions and criteria to be used in implementing the Convention

Article III – Declarations

Article III requires each State Party to submit declarations to the OPCW within 30 days after the Convention enters into force for that particular State Party

Article IV – Chemical Weapons

Article IV sets out the requirements for States Parties to destroy their chemical weapons

Article V – Chemical Weapons Production Facilities

Article V relates to the requirement for States Parties to destroy and/or convert their Chemical Weapons Production Facilities (CWPFs)

Article VI – Activities Not Prohibited under this Convention

Article VI covers “activities not prohibited under this Convention”, otherwise known as the non-proliferation or industry verification regime

Article VII – National Implementation Measures

Article VII covers national implementation of the Convention and requires each State Party to enact implementing legislation at the national level

Article VIII – The Organization

Article VIII establishes the OPCW as the implementing body of the Convention

Article IX – Consultations, Cooperation and Fact-Finding

Article IX provides for the consultation and clarification if concerns about possible non-compliance arise

Article X – Assistance and Protection against Chemical Weapons

Article X provides for assistance and protection to a State Party if it is attacked or threatened with attack by chemical weapons

Article XI – Economic and Technological Development

Article XI provides international cooperation for the economic and technological development of States Parties

Article XII – Measures to Redress a Situation and to Ensure Compliance, Including Sanctions

Article XII deals with measures to ensure compliance, including sanctions against a State Party that fails to uphold its treaty obligations

Article XIII – Relation to Other International Agreements

Article XIII deals with the relations with other international treaties

Article XIV – Settlement of Disputes

Article XIV deals with the settlement of disputes that may arise concerning the application or the interpretation of the Convention

Article XV – Amendments

Article XV deals with the amendments to the Convention

Article XVI – Duration and Withdrawal

Article XVI deals with the duration of the Convention and the States Parties’ the right to withdraw from the Convention

Article XVII – Status of the Annexes

Article XVII relates to the status of the Convention’s annexes

Article XVIII – Signature

Article XVIII deals with the signature of the Convention

Article XIX – Ratification

Article XIX related to the ratification of the Convention

Article XX – Accession

Article XX relates to the accession to the Convention

Article XXI – Entry into Force

Article XXI deals with the entry into force of the Convention

Article XXII – Reservations

Article XXII deals with reservations

Article XXIII – Depositary

Article XXIII relates to the Depositary of the Convention

Article XXIV – Authentic Texts

Article XXIV covers the authenticity of texts

Annex on Chemicals

Delineates the three Schedules and shows lists of Toxic Chemicals and their Precursors

Verification Annex

Sets out all of the detailed procedures to be followed by the States Parties and by OPCW inspection teams during verification/inspection activities at chemical weapons facilities or sites and industrial facilities

Confidentiality Annex

Guarantees the protection of sensitive, national security related information and confidential business information during inspections and when such information is submitted by States Parties to the OPCW