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17. The Chemical Weapons Convention: institutionalization and preparation for entry into force




The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling
and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC) was opened to all
states for signature on 13 January 1993 in Paris at an international
conference hosted by the French Government. A resolution establishing the
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Text on the
Establishment of a Preparatory Commission (PrepCom) was approved by the

The PrepCom began its inaugural session in The Hague, on 8 February 1993,
and has held 5 Plenary Meetings. A Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) was
set up to assist the PrepCom in its work. The PrepCom is required to set up the
procedures for the verification regime to be established under the CWC, to
develop a budget and to establish the infrastructure for the OPCW, including
its rules and procedures.

By 10 December 1993, 154 states had signed the CWC. However, a number of
states have still not signed for political reasons (e.g., the members of the
Arab League). Some small states may not have signed for practical reasons such
as the cost of contributing to the CWC infrastructure, including the PrepCom.
North Korea, a country alleged to be conducting a CW programme and to have a CW
capability, has also not signed.

Questions remain related to the participation of signatory states, the
readiness to make financial contributions for the PrepCom, the possible
shortage of manpower to fill staff positions in the PTS and the potential that
the process could be slowed by unnecessarily detailed discussion of procedures.
The co-operation of the chemical industry and the experiences, positive and
negative, which states are gaining in their preparation for national
implementation are also significant.

By the end of 1993 only 4 states—Fiji, Mauritius, the Seychelles and
Sweden—had ratified the CWC.

The greatest challenge is that all the signatory states are now involved in the
process of negotiating the details and procedures for implementing the
verification framework under the CWC and establishing the organizational
structures of the OPCW. This is a substantial change from the relatively small
group of countries and experts which negotiated the CWC at the Geneva
Conference on Disarmament.