Requests for Assistance

Assistance and Protection exercise in Colombia.

Every State Party to the Convention has the right to request assistance from the OPCW in any of the following circumstances:

  • the State Party considers chemical weapons to have been used against it;

  • the State Party considers riot control agents to have been used against it as a method of warfare; or

  • the State Party considers itself to be threatened by actions prohibited by the Convention taken by another country.

The Process

Step 1 - A request for assistance must be submitted to the Director-General with substantiating information—e.g. on the types of CW alleged to have been used, the extent and time of use, and the effects on humans, animals and vegetation.

Step 2 - The Director-General is to forward the request immediately to the Executive Council and to all States Parties, and specifically to those States Parties that have, as described above, committed themselves either by agreement or unilateral declaration to provide emergency assistance in cases of use of chemical weapons, or humanitarian assistance in cases of threatened use, to the requesting State Party within 12 hours of receiving the request. The Director-General also informs all other States Parties of the request.

Step 3 - Within 24 hours of receiving a request for assistance, the Director-General is also responsible for initiating an investigation, the purpose of which is to gather facts relevant to the request and to establish the type and extent of assistance and protection needed. The investigation is to be completed within 72 hours, at which time a report on it is to be submitted to the Executive Council. Note: If more time is needed, an interim report is submitted and the time for the investigation is extended in increments of up to 72 hours. Reports are to be submitted to the Executive Council at the end of each extension.

Step 4 - Within 24 hours of receiving the report, the Executive Council meets to consider the situation, and to decide by a simple majority whether or not to instruct the Secretariat to provide assistance. The Secretariat, meanwhile, distributes the report to all States Parties and relevant international organisations and informs them of the decision of the Executive Council. If the Executive Council decides in favour of assistance, the Director-General is to provide it immediately, cooperating with States Parties and other international organisations as necessary.