OPCW chemical watchdog gains power to assign blame


The world‘s foremost chemical weapons watchdog has granted itself new powers to assign blame for attacks, despite protests by Russia.

Until now, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) could only say whether chemical weapons were used – but not who had used them.

Britain successfully argued that new powers were needed to deal with repeated chemical attacks in Syria.

This is an important step forward for arms control. It strengthens the unraveling consensus against the use of chemical weapons. It marks a victory for the rules-based international order, which itself is under increasing strain given the rise of populists and nationalism in many countries.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997.

The organization was awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize “for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons”.

The Convention contains four key provisions:

Destroying all existing chemical weapons under international verification by the OPCW.

Monitoring chemical industry to prevent new weapons from re-emerging.

Providing assistance and protection to States Parties against chemical threats.

Fostering international cooperation to strengthen implementation of the Convention and promote the peaceful use of chemistry.

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