The definition of a chemical weapon is detailed in the Chemical Weapons Convention. A chemical weapon is a chemical used to cause intentional death or harm through its toxic properties. Munitions, devices and other equipment specifically designed to weaponise toxic chemicals also fall under the definition of chemical weapons.
The world has agreed that chemical weapons have no place in today’s arsenals. The OPCW, together with its Member States, are committed to the complete elimination of chemical weapons stockpiles under the watchful eye of the OPCW’s verification regime.
Chemical weapons may re-emerge in a number of ways: through state-sponsored programmes, through the actions of terrorist or other criminal groups, or through lone individuals. Chemical weapons may be produced by repurposing existing chemical facilities or they may be made on a smaller scale in purpose-built laboratories or even domestic settings. The OPCW works in a variety of ways to prevent these scenarios from happening.
National measures to implement the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention are essential to building an effective verification regime. These measures also help to build trust that toxic chemicals are only used for peaceful purposes.
The promotion of free trade in chemicals and the open exchange of information and knowledge about the peaceful applications of chemistry is an important part of the Chemical Weapons Convention. These activities are meant to help strengthen the economic and technological development of States Parties.
The OPCW works with its Member States to help them protect themselves and their populations against the possibility that chemical weapons may be used against them. The Convention enables them to develop national protection programmes and to receive assistance, if needed, to build their national capacity to respond to the use of chemical weapons.
There are different ways in which the OPCW can respond to the use of alleged use of chemical weapons, ranging from carrying out a formal investigation to providing emergency assistance.
The OPCW honours the memory of all victims of chemical weapons through its mission to eliminate these weapons from the world. Our commitment to victims offers them hope that they will be the last to experience the horror of chemical warfare.
Universality underpins achieving a comprehensive, verifiable ban on chemical weapons. It consolidates the international norm against the use of chemical weapons, reinforces the Convention as a confidence-building measure, prevents proliferation, and helps prevent access to chemical weapons by non-State actors.