Rights & Responsibilities

Assistance Delivery Exercise TRIPLEX 2006 in Finland.

Along with activities related to industry, agriculture, research, medicine and pharmaceuticals, the Convention does not prohibit the development of means of protection against toxic chemicals and chemical weapons. In fact, the CWC explicitly states that all States Parties have the right to conduct research into, develop, produce, acquire, transfer and use means of protection against chemical weapons. Also articulated is the right of States Parties to participate in, and the obligation to facilitate, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, material and scientific and technological information concerning means of protection.

States Parties may even transfer to other States Parties or use limited amounts of Schedule 1 chemicals (i.e. those with few if any legitimate non-CW applications) for research and pharmaceutical purposes, and protection against chemical weapons. A national protection programme may in some ways appear to be similar to a chemical weapons development programme. In part to allay any suspicions that they might arouse, all States Parties are required to submit to the Secretariat annual declarations regarding such programmes. In addition, details of the production, and transfers of Schedule 1 chemicals must be reported. All of these requirements are intended to increase the transparency of all protection programmes, ideally avoiding tensions between States that may arise because of them.

In spite of the permission granted under the CWC to possess or develop means of protection, States Parties differ in their capabilities to face the threat of attack with chemical weapons. Some States may have developed adequate protection capabilities before the Convention entered into force, whereas others may lack the financial or technological means to initiate a protection programme, or may simply need to use their resources to address more pressing concerns. Some States Parties may be able to rely on other forms of deterrence, such as superior conventional forces, whereas many others can not. To ensure the security of all States Parties, it is crucial that outside support is available to those that need it if ever they are threatened with chemical weapons.

However, the provision of assistance directly from one State Party to another in the event of a chemical attack is tantamount to security cooperation and, as such, is subject to numerous political considerations. It is therefore unlikely that governments capable of rendering assistance would pledge to do so on their own in a way that would adequately provide for the security of all States Parties. For this reason, the OPCW is charged with responding, whenever requested, to an alleged chemical attack on a State Party by, among other things, coordinating assistance from States Parties that can provide it.