Statement attributable to the spokesperson for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
The Technical Secretariat of the OPCW is monitoring closely the situation in Ukraine. The Secretariat is concerned by the recent unconfirmed report of chemical weapons use in Mariupol, which has been carried in the media over the past 24 hours. This follows reports in the media over the past few weeks of shelling targeted at chemical plants located in Ukraine, together with accusations levelled by both sides around possible misuse of toxic chemicals.
All 193 OPCW Member States, including the Russian Federation and Ukraine, are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, an international treaty of major importance in the field of disarmament that has been in force since 1997. In doing so, they have solemnly and voluntarily committed never to develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, transfer or use chemical weapons.
The use of chemical weapons anywhere by anyone under any circumstances is reprehensible and wholly contrary to the legal norms established by the international community against such use.
Since the beginning of the conflict, the OPCW Technical Secretariat has remained in contact with concerned States Parties. The Secretariat has received from both the Russian Federation and Ukraine correspondence regarding threats of use of toxic chemicals as weapons and shared it with all 193 Member States of the OPCW as requested.
The OPCW Technical Secretariat has also uninterruptedly been monitoring the situation around declared chemical industrial sites in Ukraine.
Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Secretariat remains ready to assist any State Party upon its request, in case of use or threat of use of chemical weapons.
The OPCW Technical Secretariat will continue to monitor the situation and keep in contact with concerned States Parties.
- As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), with its 193 Member States, oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons and to prevent their re-emergence.
- Over the past 25 years since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, the Convention is considered to be the most successful disarmament treaty, eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
- Under the Convention, all 193 OPCW Member States have committed without any reservation to never, under any circumstances, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, transfer or use chemical weapons.
- Over 99% of all declared chemical weapon stockpiles have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.
- The Convention is supported by a strong verification regime, aimed at reducing the risk of misuse of dangerous chemicals. For that purpose, the Secretariat of the OPCW carries out periodic inspections of the chemical industry of the States Parties.
- Any toxic chemical intentionally used to cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals would be in contravention of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
- Both the Russian Federation and Ukraine are States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, having joined in 1997 and 1998 respectively. None of these two States Parties currently have declared chemical weapons.
- The OPCW Technical Secretariat stands ready to assist, if requested by any State Party, in line with its mandate provided under the Convention and decisions by the Policy-Making Organs (namely the Conference of the States Parties and the Executive Council).
- In addition to assistance provided by the Organisation, in the event of an allegation of use of chemical weapons, the Convention provides for investigations to be carried out by the Technical Secretariat in connection with allegations of use under certain strict conditions.