THE HAGUE – Syria is one of just five countries that have not signed a global treaty banning chemical weapons. Israel and Myanmar have signed the convention but not ratified it, while Angola, Egypt, North Korea, South Sudan and Syria have done neither.
The Chemical Weapons Convention is aimed at ridding the world of such arms, which were first used in combat in World War I and also in 1988 against civilians in Halabja, Iraq.
The CWC has four main provisions: the destruction of all chemical weapons under strict verification; monitoring of the chemical industry to prevent development; helping protect nations against chemical threats; and boosting global cooperation to strengthen implementation.
“It is the first multilateral treaty to ban an entire category of weapons of mass destruction and to provide for the international verification of the destruction of these weapons,” according to the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversees its implementation.
No specific punitive measures are provided for countries that use chemical weapons. The document says only that the OPCW can “in cases of particular gravity, bring the issue, including relevant information and conclusions, to the attention of the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council.”
Under the convention, ratifying countries commit to destroying their weapons stockpiles within 10 years, though some have obtained delays.
The United States is aiming for 2023, while Russia has set a deadline of December 2015.
The CWC allows experts to conduct inspections at short notice at military, civilian and industrial sites where sensitive listed chemicals are used.
Signing of the convention began in 1993, and it took effect on April 29, 1997.
The OPCW has 189 so-called States Parties, including nearly all industrialized nations.