Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)

Little Pro on 2016-01-07

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is an arms control treaty prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by States Parties. It is administered by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and entered into force in 1997.

The Convention also requires each State Party to adopt the necessary measures to ensure that toxic chemicals and their precursors are only developed, produced, retained, transferred, or used within its territory for purposes not prohibited under this Convention. The table below gives you an overview of the Convention.

Chemical Weapons Convention

Lists of Scheduled Chemicals in the CWC

Scheduled chemicals, which are explicitly specified in the Convention for monitoring purposes, include chemical warfare agents and their key precursors. These chemicals are listed in the 3 Schedules of the Convention’s Annex on Chemicals. In addition to controlling the 3 Schedules of specified chemicals, the Convention also monitors other chemicals not specifically listed in the Schedules (called Discrete Organic Chemicals).

Each type of controlled chemicals has different requirements. The table below gives a brief summary of how they are controlled by the CWC.

Schedule 1
  • Chemicals that have been or can be easily used as chemical weapons;
  • They are subject to very stringent restrictions, including a ceiling on the production of one tonne per annum per State Party, a ceiling on total possession at any given time of one tonne per State Party, licensing requirements, and restrictions on transfers;
  • Schedule 1 chemicals may only be acquired on the territory of a State Party and can only be transferred to other States Parties for justified non-prohibited (research, medical, pharmaceutical or protective) purposes;
  • All transfers are subject to advance notification and annual declaration. These restrictions apply irrespective of the amount to be transferred or the concentration of the chemical if transferred in a mixture.
Schedule 2
Schedule 3
Discrete organic chemicals
  • Other chemicals not specifically listed in the Schedules or anywhere in the Convention are discrete organic chemicals (DOCs);
  • DOCs mean any chemical belonging to the class of chemical compounds consisting of all compounds of carbon ?with the exception of its oxides, sulfides and metal carbonates? which are identifiable by means of their chemical name, structural formula (if known), and by their CAS number, if assigned;
  • No declaration requirements on transfers of these chemicals;
  • Production facilities ?with the exception of those dedicated exclusively to the production of hydrocarbons,explosives or polymers/oligomers? must be declared whenever the aggregate annual production of all DOC’s surpasses 200 tonnes.
  • Should these compounds contain phosphorus, sulfur or fluorine (PSF chemicals), the declaration threshold for each chemical will be 30 tonnes per year.

Impacts of the Chemical Weapons Convention

The Chemical Weapons Convention has a broad impact on all chemical, pharmaceutical, and agrochemical enterprises and other related sectors that not only produce and process, but also consume and/or trade internationally those chemicals covered by the Convention. A considerable number of companies from other industrial or commercial sectors face obligations arising from the Convention.

Countries that have ratified the Convention usually have their own regulations to control chemical weapons and their precursor chemicals (for example, China). Business operators need to check their own national legislation for detailed requirements. Usually, the production, use and import/export of Scheduled chemicals require licenses. The quantities of schedule 2 & 3 chemicals produced, processed, consumed, imported and exported shall be declared to national authorities annually.

Reference & Resource

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