The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is a multilateral treaty that bans chemical weapons and requires their destruction within a specified period of time. India is one of its signatories.

CWC is an arms control treaty which outlaws the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons and their precursors and entered into force in 1997.

The treaty is of unlimited duration and is far more comprehensive than the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which outlaws the use but not the possession of chemical weapons.

Important features :

1. It has the mandate of preventing, and taking note of chemical weapons programmes undertaken by errant nations.

2. It disseminates information about its functions, and helps in the spread of knowledge about chemical weapons, and the harms that they cause, including the publication of a list of internationally banned chemicals.

3. Destruction of stockpiles through concerted, and well coordinated international action.

4. to spread the message of peace, and information about the possible peaceful uses of chemicals.

Issues :

  • The Convention is beset with politics of developed nations. Many a times, the investigations and inquiries carried out have brought no genuine results, based on the assumptions made, for countries like Iraq.
  • There are several incidents in past which shows that there were more chemical agents in the country than had been officially declared and destroyed. For e.g Syria is party to the CWC but Brutal war in Syria exposes the global failure on chemical weapons.
  • Recent assassination attempt on former Russian spy in UK. Novichok was a nerve agent similar to toxic substances that are already regulated by the Convention on Chemical Weapons, but it is not banned under it.
  • Russia is a signatory to the convention. It declared in 2017 that it had completed the destruction of its 40,000 tonnes of chemical weapons. It didn’t declare Novichok, which it possessed despite states being obliged to declare all chemical weapons programs and holdings under the convention.
  • Another issue concerns the military nature of the nerve agent used in the killing of spy in UK. Toxic chemicals can be produced and used for lawful purposes according to the convention, including for military, defence and protection reasons. It’s just the use of toxic chemicals as a method of warfare that is strictly prohibited.
  • There is continuing ambiguity as to the type and specifications of those Riot control Agents means of delivery that are prohibited under the convention.

Suggestions :

The key to coping with this risk is to keep proper track of movements of certain chemicals and chemical reactors and use modern data technology to analyse such information and predict when there are reasons to believe it is time to act.

Good faith and transparency are essential for the functioning of the international law on chemical weapons both of which currently appear to be lacking


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