The Chemical Weapons Ban
Facts and Figures


The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) has now been in force for more than 17 years. The international community is using this instrument to eliminate the possibility of developing, producing, using, stockpiling or transfering these dreadful weapons forever.

The mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is to implement the provisions of the CWC in order to achieve a world free of chemical weapons, and a world in which cooperation in the peaceful uses of chemistry is fostered. In doing this, our ultimate aim is to contribute to international security and stability, general and complete disarmament, and global economic development.

This brief overview of the CWC and of the OPCW provides an understanding of how the States Parties to this disarmament treaty are transforming their solemn pledge to renounce chemical weapons into a verifiable reality.

Over 98% of the world’s population lives within territories where the CWC has become the law of the land. It is our fervent hope that soon everyone will share the same protection.

Ahmet Üzümcü
Director-General, OPCW

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A Global Convention to Ban Chemical Weapons

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Making the Convention Work

To make sure that the CWC is implemented effectively, States Parties are obliged to designate or establish a National Authority. This body escorts OPCW inspections of relevant industrial or military sites; submits initial and annual declarations; assists and protects those States  Parties which are threatened by, or have suffered, chemical attack; and fosters the peaceful uses of chemistry. In addition, the National Authority acts as the focal point in the State Party's interaction with other States Parties and the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW.

The Secretariat supports States Parties in their national implementation of the CWC. The focus of this work is to provide advice and assistance to the staff of National Authorities, in order to help them enhance their skills and expertise to facilitate effective, autonomous, national implementation. The Technical Secretariat coordinates and hosts regular meetings of the National Authorities from around the world. CD-ROM, DVD and website information packages on CWC implementation are available.

Every State Party must implement the provisions under the CWC at the national level. This includes enacting penal legislation encompassing all activities prohibited. Each State Party is obliged to provide other States Parties with its fullest cooperation to expedite prosecution. Legal experts have formed regional networks to facilitate the adoption of national legislation that bans and criminalises the misuse of chemicals as weapons.

Some figures on national implementation follow:

  • 188 National Authorities have been established.
  • 149 States Parties have informed the Organisation of the legislative and administrative measures taken to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention.
  • 108 States Parties have legislation covering initial measures.
  • Since 1997, over 13,000 participants, including more than 6,000 sponsored participants from all geographical regions have received support in the CWC's effective national implementation through OPCW meetings, workshops, training courses and seminars.

Chemical Weapons Destruction Under Way

The eight States Parties (A State Party, Albania, India, Iraq, Libya, the Russian Federation, the Syrian Arab Republic, and the United States of America) which have declared chemical weapons must destroy 8.67 million items, including munitions and containers containing in total, and 72,304 metric tonnes of extremely toxic chemical agents. Albania, India, Libya and a fourth country have completed destruction. By comparison, a tiny drop of a nerve agent, no larger than the head of a pin, can kill an adult human being within minutes after exposure.The OPCW verifies that the destruction process is irreversible. At the same time, States Parties in the process of destroying chemical weapons are obliged to place the highest priority on the safety of people and on protecting the environment.

69,059 metric tonnes, or 90%, of the world's declared stockpile of 72,304 metric tonnes of chemical agent have been verifiably destroyed. (As at 01/07/2017)

4.97 million, or 57.32%, of the 8.67 million chemical munitions and containers covered by the CWC have been verifiably destroyed. (As at 01/07/2017)

The OPCW has developed an internationally unique, peer-reviewed, and certified analytical database, containing information on over 3,900 chemical weapons-related compounds. This database is essential for on-site verification activities of OPCW inspection teams, and is also made available to States Parties.

Official Proficiency Tests are conducted to select, certify, and train States Parties' laboratories for the analysis of chemical weapons-related compounds in the event of off-site analysis of authentic samples. 20 laboratories have been designated.

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Declared and inspected CW sites
  States Parties which have declared Facilities Declared Sites or Facilities Inspections Conducted Sites Inspected
Chemical Weapons Production Facilities 6 35 495 65
Chemical Weapon Destruction Facilities 2 2 1,862 8,112
Chemical Weapons Storage Facilities 3 2 507 176
Abandoned Chemical Weapons 1 39 122 224
Old Chemical Weapons 6 6 140 35
Total   84 3,126 8,612
  • From Entry into Force of the CWC (April 1997) until 01/07/2017, the OPCW has conducted 6,664 inspections on the territory of 86 States Parties, including 3,126 inspections of chemical weapon-related sites. 8,612 chemical weapon-related sites have been inspected out of a total of 84 declared.
  • 100% of the declared chemical weapons stockpiles have been inventoried and verified.
  • 180 initial declarations have been received.
  • 100% of the declared chemical weapons production facilities (CWPFs) have been inactivated. All are subject to a verification regime of unprecedented stringency. 90 of the 97 CWPFs declared to the OPCW have been either destroyed (67) or converted for peaceful purposes (23). 6 States Parties have declared CWPFs: Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, France, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Japan, Libya, the Russian Federation, Serbia, the Syrian Arab Republic, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, and another State Party.

Industry verification and non-proliferation

The world's chemical industry manufactures the compounds we depend on in our daily lives. Some very common chemicals can, if misused, be employed directly, or through further synthesis with other substances, as chemical weapons.

Together with governments, and with the support of the global chemical industry, the OPCW prevents the spread of chemical weapons.

  • From April 1997 to 22/11/2017, the OPCW has conducted 6,664 inspections on the territory of 86 States Parties, including 3,538 inspections of industrial sites. 2,597 industrial sites have been inspected out of a total of 4,717 declared.
  • Worldwide, 4,732 industrial facilities are liable to inspection.

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International Cooperation: Economic and Technological Development

While the CWC seeks to ban chemical weapons, it also provides for international cooperation among States Parties in the pursuit of chemistry for peaceful purposes.

International cooperation is promoted in many areas: from sponsoring chemical research to guaranteeing legal assistance; from developing and improving laboratory capacity to specialised internships and training in CWC implementation and safe chemical management.

The provisions of the CWC have to be effectively and stringently implemented to ensure that a global chemical weapons ban is achieved. Support programmes, funded by the States Parties, enhance the OPCW's ability to hinder prohibited activity and to extend the benefits of peaceful uses of chemistry to all.

The OPCW Associate and Internship Support programmes provide specialised training in modern industrial practices and skills development to chemists and engineers from States Parties whose economies are either developing or are in transition. Industrial internships and research projects provide insight into best-practice methodology in the safe management of chemicals and in the implementation of the CWC.

The Secretariat supports the exchange of scientific and technical information among States Parties to promote the peaceful uses of chemistry. A variety of research projects in developing countries are also funded in part by the OPCW. Research in any of the following areas may be considered for financial support: environmentally sound technologies for the destruction of hazardous chemicals, analytical detection systems for toxic chemicals, safer alternatives to Scheduled chemicals, medical treatment for accidental exposure to hazardous chemicals, and practical applications for natural products in agriculture and medicine.

  • From Entry into Force of the CWC (29/4/1997) to 18/11/2016, the International Cooperation programmes have had 4,710 beneficiaries, including 532 analytical chemists, 424 Associate Programme participants, 2,231 Conference Support participants, 134 interns, conferences, 92 laboratories, 503 research projects, and 153 transfers of used and functional equipment.
  • Beneficiaries by region: Africa (1,536), Asia (1,446), Latin America and the Caribbean (750), Eastern Europe (585) and Western Europe and Other States (393).

The following table describes the different international cooperation programmes run by the OPCW and the number of beneficiaries, including a regional breakdown, for each of them, since Entry into Force of the CWC in April 1997.

Programme Description Beneficiaries
Associate Programme Established in 2000, it facilitates capacity building, industry-related national implementation of the CWC and promotes good practice in chemical manufacturing and safety. 424 Associates from Africa (172), Asia (129), Latin America (77), Eastern Europe (40) and Western Europe and Other States (6) have participated.
Analytical Skills Development Course Established in 2004, it assists qualified analytical chemists to acquire further practical experience in the analysis of chemicals related to the national implementation of the CWC. This course has benefited 532 chemists from Africa (218), Asia (111), Latin America (99), Eastern Europe (94) and Western Europe and Other States (10).
Conference Support Programme Established in 1997, it facilitates the exchange of scientific and technical information, provides financial support for the organisation of conferences, workshops and seminars on special topics relevant to the CWC and facilitates participation in such events. 2,231 participants from Africa (694), Asia (498), Eastern Europe (399), Latin America and the Caribbean (278) and Western Europe and Other States (362) have benefited from these events. In addition, the OPCW sponsored events in Africa (60), Asia (56), Eastern Europe (47), Latin America (21) and Western Europe and Other States (77).
Research Projects Programme Established in 1997, it assists small-scale research projects in targeted countries for the development of scientific and technical knowledge in the field of chemistry for industrial, agricultural, research, medical and other peaceful purposes relevant to the CWC. 503 projects in Africa (179), Asia (163), Eastern Europe (9), Latin America (148) and Western Europe and Other States (4) have benefited from this programme.
Internship Support Programme Scientists and engineers from developing countries conduct advanced research in laboratories in industrialised countries. 134 interns from Africa (79), Asia (24), Eastern Europe (9), Latin America (20) and Western Europe and Other States (2) have so far been supported by the OPCW.
Laboratory Assistance Programme Established in 1997, it aims at improving the technical competence of laboratories engaged in chemical analysis and monitoring. 92 laboratories in Africa (48), Asia (19), Eastern Europe (8), Latin America (16) and Western Europe and Other States (1) have benefited from this programme.
Equipment Exchange Programme Facilitates the transfer of used and functional equipment to publicly funded laboratories and other academic institutions in developing countries from institutions in industrialised countries. 153 transfers in Africa (81), Asia (15), Eastern Europe (24), Latin America (29) and Western Europe and Other States (4) have been undertaken.
Industry Outreach (Chemical Safety and Security) Established in 2009, the programme consists on workshops to sensitise States Parties to modern approaches in safety and security management, safety culture and promote safety and management and handling of chemicals, in particular in a small and medium-sized enterprises 641 participants from Africa (65), Asia (487), Eastern Europe (2), Latin America and the Caribbean (83) and Western Europe and Other States (4)

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Protecting Each Other

Chemical weapons are frightening and dreadful weapons. They inflict excruciating and long-term suffering on a mass scale. Some States Parties have the capacity to protect their populations against chemical weapons, while others do not. All States Parties have pledged to provide assistance and protection to fellow Member States threatened by the use of chemical weapons or attacked with chemical weapons.

Resources from a Voluntary Fund for Assistance, as well as individual offers of equipment and trained personnel, are available, should the need arise to swiftly dispatch assistance and expertise. A network of protection experts consults regularly on the means to improve the ability of States Parties to respond to the use of chemical weapons and to protect civilian populations. If a State Party requests assistance, the Technical Secretariat is responsible for the effective coordination of the assistance and protection measures provided by States Parties.

These capabilities can include expertise in predicting hazards, in detecting and decontaminating chemical agents, in medical relief, and in on-site coordination with humanitarian and disaster response agencies.

Latest updates on assistance and protection:

  • The OPCW Technical Secretariat organises courses aimed at providing training to first responders, government experts and emergency response units in building and developing national and regional capabilities and emergency response systems against the use, or threat of use, of chemical weapons. 2,200 participants from Africa (350), Asia (600), Latin America (500) and Eastern Europe (750) have benefited.
  • 78 States Parties have pledged assistance under paragraph 7 of Article X.
  • 146 States Parties have provided information on national programmes related to protective purposes, paragraph 4 of Article X.
  • 45 States have contributed to the Voluntary Fund for Assistance.
  • Balance of the Voluntary Fund for Assistance: EUR 1,362,849.76.

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The OPCW States Parties already represent more than 98% of the global population and landmass, as well as 98% of the worldwide chemical industry. The OPCW provides all States not Party to the CWC support in preparing to join the CWC and to effectively implement the global ban on chemical weapons. It is the fastest growing international disarmament organisation in history. The United Nations has called upon all States to join the CWC and to rid the world of the threat chemical weapons pose to international security.

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Published by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
Media and Public Affairs Branch, External Relations Division --
Johan de Wittlaan 32 -- 2517JR The Hague -- The Netherlands


The designations employed and the presentation of the material in any OPCW publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the OPCW concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.