The Hague Ethical Guidelines

Applying the norms of the practice of chemistry to support the Chemical Weapons Convention

Participants at the Second The Hague Ethical Guidelines Workshop.

The responsible practice of chemistry improves the quality of life of humankind and the environment. Through their many peaceful uses, such as in research and industry, chemicals play an essential role in this improvement. However, some chemicals can also be used as chemical weapons or to create them, and these weapons are among the most horrific in the world.

As a way of promoting a culture of responsible conduct in the chemical sciences and to guard against the misuse of chemistry, a group of chemical practitioners from around the world met in The Hague in 2015 to formulate a set of ethical guidelines related to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

As an outcome of the two workshops held, The Hague Ethical Guidelines were produced, intended to serve as elements for ethical codes and discussion points for ethical issues related to the practice of chemistry under the Convention. The core element of the guidelines, which draw on many existing elements, is based on the premise that "achievements in the field of chemistry should be used to benefit humankind and the environment."

Brochures containing The Hague Ethical Guidelines, in all official languages of the OPCW, are listed below. The OPCW encourages all stakeholders to refer to and promote the guidelines when debating the vital dimension of ethics in relation to chemical disarmament and non-proliferation and the broader issue of responsible scientific conduct.

To top

The Key Elements

  • Core element. Achievements in the field of chemistry should be used to benefit humankind and protect the environment.

  • Sustainability. Chemistry practitioners have a special responsibility for promoting and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

  • Education. Formal and informal educational providers, enterprise, industry and civil society should cooperate to equip anybody working in chemistry and others with the necessary knowledge and tools to take responsibility for the benefit of humankind, the protection of the environment and to ensure relevant and meaningful engagement with the general public.

  • Awareness and engagement. Teachers, chemistry practitioners, and policymakers should be aware of the multiple uses of chemicals, specifically their use as chemical weapons or their precursors. They should promote the peaceful applications of chemicals and work to prevent any misuse of chemicals, scientific knowledge, tools and technologies, and any harmful or unethical developments in research and innovation. They should disseminate relevant information about national and international laws, regulations, policies and practices.

  • Ethics. To adequately respond to societal challenges, education, research and innovation must respect fundamental rights and apply the highest ethical standards. Ethics should be perceived as a way of ensuring high quality results in science.

  • Safety and Security. Chemistry practitioners should promote the beneficial applications, uses, and development of science and technology while encouraging and maintaining a strong culture of safety, health, and security.

  • Accountability. Chemistry practitioners have a responsibility to ensure that chemicals, equipment and facilities are protected against theft and diversion and are not used for illegal, harmful or destructive purposes. These persons should be aware of applicable laws and regulations governing the manufacture and use of chemicals, and they should report any misuse of chemicals, scientific knowledge, equipment and facilities to the relevant authorities.

  • Oversight. Chemistry practitioners who supervise others have the additional responsibility to ensure that chemicals, equipment and facilities are not used by those persons for illegal, harmful or destructive purposes.

  • Exchange of information. Chemistry practitioners should promote the exchange of scientific and technical information relating to the development and application of chemistry for peaceful purposes.

To top

The Hague Ethical Guidelines Brochure

      Title Date  
    The Hague Ethical Guidelines Brochure in Arabic ( العربية) 02/12/2015
    The Hague Ethical Guidelines Brochure (中文) 02/12/2015
    The Hague Ethical Guidelines Brochure (français) 02/12/2015
    The Hague Ethical Guidelines Brochure (русский) 02/12/2015
    The Hague Ethical Guidelines Brochure (español) 02/12/2015
    The Hague Ethical Guidelines Brochure 18/11/2015

Unofficial Translations

      Title Date  
    Die Haager EthikLeitlinien bersetzt ins Deutsche 15/07/2016

Endorsed by the following individuals:

  • Professor Muhamad Abdulkadir (Indonesia)
  • Professor Jasim Uddin Ahmad (Bangladesh)
  • Professor Abeer Al-Bawab (Jordan)
  • Professor Fernando Albericio Palomera (Spain)
  • Professor Jan Apotheker (The Netherlands)
  • Professor Mahdi Balali-Mood (Islamic Republic of Iran)
  • Professor Djafer Benachour (Algeria)
  • Dr Mark Cesa (United States of America)
  • Professor Al-Nakib Chowdhury (Bangladesh)
  • Dr Philip Coleman (South Africa)
  • Professor Dr Hartmut Frank (Germany)
  • Professor David Gonzalez (Uruguay)
  • Professor Alastair Hay (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
  • Mr Steven Hill (United States of America)
  • Professor Dr Henning Hopf (Germany)
  • Dr Jo Husbands (United States of America)
  • Professor Jorge Guillermo Ibañez Cornejo (Mexico)
  • Mr Amirhossein Imani (Islamic Republic of Iran)
  • Dr Nancy Jackson (United States of America)
  • Dr Patrick John Lim (Philippines)
  • Professor Mohd Jamil Maah (Malaysia)
  • Dr Detlef Maennig (Germany)
  • Professor Peter Mahaffy (Canada)
  • Dr Robert Mathews (Australia)
  • Professor Temechegn Engida (Ethiopia)
  • Dr Kabrena Rodda (United States of America)
  • Dr Ting Kueh Soon (Malaysia)
  • Professor Alejandra Graciela Suarez (Argentina)
  • Professor Leiv K. Sydnes (Norway)
  • Mr Cheng Tang (China)
  • Professor Natalia P. Tarasova (Russian Federation)
  • Dr Christopher Timperley (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
  • Dr Hans-Georg Weinig (Germany)
  • Dr Prashant Yajnik (India)
  • Dr Muhammad Zafar-Uz-Zaman (Pakistan)
  • Professor Zuriati Binti Zakaria (Malaysia)
  • Mr Muhammad Setyabudhi Zuber (Indonesia)
  • Mr Sjoerd Looijs (The Netherlands)

Subsequently endorsed by the following organisations and individuals:

  • International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC)
  • German Chemical Society

To top