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Chemical Weapons Convention

  • Chemical Weapons Convention

    1. Chemcal Weapons Convention is a universal non-discriminatory, multilateral, Disarmament Treaty which bans the development, production, acquisition, transfer, use and stockpile of all chemical weapons. The Treaty puts all the States Parties on an equal footing. Countries having stockpiles of chemical weapons are required to declare and destroy them in a specified time frame and those who produce and use chemicals that can be conveniently converted into chemical weapons have to be open and transparent about the use they put these chemicals to. The Convention was opened for signature on 13th January, 1993 in Paris. India signed the Convention on 14th January, 1993.

    2. The Convention entered into force 180 days after deposit of 65th instrument of ratification. India’s instrument of ratification was deposited on 3rd Sept., 1996 making India the 62nd States Party to ratify the Treaty. The 65th instrument of ratification was deposited on 31st October, 1996 and the Convention entered into force on 29th April, 1997. As on 30.11.2004, 167 countries are state parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Some of the important countries who have ratified the Treaty include USA, China, Japan, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Russia, Pakistan and the Netherlands.

    3. The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) requires the State Parties to undertake not to develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons or transfer directly or indirectly chemical weapons to anyone and not to use chemical weapons and engage in military preparations. It also enjoins upon the States Parties to undertake destruction of all chemical weapons including old chemical weapons and abandoned chemical weapons in a stipulated time frame. The State Parties to the Convention are prohibited from using riot control agents as a method of warfare. Each State Party, however, has the right under the provisions of the Convention to develop, produce, otherwise acquire, retain, transfer and use toxic chemicals and their precursors for purposes not prohibited under the Convention such as Industrial, agricultural, research, medical, pharmaceutical, protective and other peaceful purposes. The Convention classifies toxic chemicals into three schedules. Schedule 1 lists chemicals that are produced and stockpiled as chemical weapons. Schedule 2 contains such precursors which pose significant risk to the objective and purpose of CWC, since these chemicals are capable of generating Schedule 1 chemicals. In Schedule 3 are listed dual purpose chemicals that have large number of legitimate civilian commercial applications and which could also be used for purposes of developing chemical weapons. The list of scheduled chemicals is annexed.

    4. The Chemical Weapons Convention entails a number of obligations on the State Parties which include regular reporting of data relating to production, processing, consumption, use and transfer in respect of chemicals, their plants and plant sites, chemical weapons, chemical weapons production facilities, riot control agents etc. The data contained in the declarations made is subject to verification through a mechanism of inspections by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). India has hosted 16 OPCW inspections as on 30.10.2004. Therefore, the declarations have to be correct and complete in all respects. The Convention also provides for enactment of penal legislation prohibiting the activities not permitted by the convention to a State Party.

    5. National Implementation Measures are required to be undertaken by the State Parties to fulfil their obligations under the Treaty.

    Article VII of the Convention regarding the National Implementation Measures is as follows:

    • Each State Party shall, in accordance with its constitutional processes, adopt the necessary measures to implement its obligations under this Convention. In particular, it shall:

    1. Prohibit natural and legal persons anywhere on its territory or in any other place under its jurisdiction as recognised by international law from undertaking any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention, including enacting penal legislation with respect to such activity.
    2. Not permit in any place under its control any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention; and
    3. Extend its penal legislation enacted under subparagraph (a) to any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention undertaken anywhere by natural persons, possessing its nationality, in conformity with international law.

    • Each State Party shall cooperate with other State Parties and afford the appropriate form of legal assistance to facilitate the implementation of the obligations under the conventions.
    • Each State Party, during the implementation of its obligations under this Convention, shall assign the highest priority to ensuring the safety of people and to protecting the environment, and shall cooperate as appropriate with other States Parties in this regard.
    • The Indian CWC Act 2000 was passed in August 2000. Section 18(1) of the Act requires that all persons engaged in activities related to scheduled chemicals and discrete organic chemicals will be required to submit applications for registration who are engaged in the activities of their facilities to the registration authority.

    Relations between the State Party and the OPCW:

    • In order to fulfil its obligations under this Convention, each State Party shall designate or establish a National Authority to serve as the national focal point for effective liaison with the Organisation and other State Parties. Each State Party shall notify the Organisation of its National Authority at the time that this Convention enters into force for it.
    • Each State Party shall inform the Organisation of the legislative and administrative measures taken to implement this Convention.
    • Each State Party shall treat as confidential and afford special handling to information and data that It receives in confidence from the Organisation in connection with the implementation of this Convention.
    • It shall treat such information and data exclusively in connection with its rights and obligations under this Convention and in accordance with the provisions set forth in the Confidentiality Annex.
    • Each State Party undertakes to cooperate with the Organisation in the exercise of all its functions and in particular to provide assistance to the Technical Secretariat".