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Two experts wearing protective gear – breathing masks, helmets, protective jackets and gloves – collect samples to analyse them for chemical weapons residues.
To prevent the re-emergence of chemical weapons, Switzerland supports investigations into suspected chemical weapons use, such as here in Syria. (© The Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity)

The 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (CWC) prohibits the development, production, acquisition and use of chemical weapons. The CWC comprises four core areas:

  • the destruction of all declared chemical weapons;
  • the global verification of the relevant chemical industry and government facilities;
  • the provision of assistance and protection against chemical weapons; and
  • the promotion of international cooperation in the peaceful use of chemistry.

Destruction activities

Since its entry into force, the CWC has achieved near universality. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), based in The Hague, is the implementing body for the CWC. The OPCW monitors the destruction of declared chemical weapons stockpiles and conducts inspections of relevant industrial facilities and government research laboratories in the states parties. Over 98% of the world's declared stockpiles of chemical agents have been destroyed to date. In 2013, the OPCW was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its services to international disarmament.

Prevention

In view of the expected destruction of the world's chemical weapons stockpiles, the focus is increasingly shifting to preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons, addressing threats posed by non-state actors and preserving the OPCW's expertise. Staying on top of and adapting to scientific and technological developments is equally critical. As a regular member of the OPCW's Scientific Advisory Board, Switzerland plays a very active role in this area.

Mutual assistance

Under its obligation to provide mutual assistance in the event of a chemical weapons incident, Switzerland keeps protective and decontamination material as well as detection equipment and field laboratories on standby and available on short notice at the request of the OPCW. Switzerland offers training courses at home and abroad to train foreign instructors in the correct handling of hazardous materials.

Scientific exchanges

Switzerland has also organised the Spiez CONVERGENCE conference series since 2014.The conference brings together experts from research, industry and politics to discuss the consequences of the increasing convergence of chemical and biological sciences on the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention.

Spiez CONVERGENCE (en)

Spiez Laboratory – internationally recognised centre of excellence for NBC protection

Spiez Laboratory works closely with international organisations. As a designated OPCW laboratory, it helps to investigate the use of chemical weapons and analyses suspected samples collected during inspections conducted worldwide. The designated labs are internationally accredited and are subject to strict quality controls every year. Spiez Laboratory also places at the OPCW’s disposal data records free of charge to support analyses of chemical substances.

Spiez Laboratory, DDPS

International Partnership Against Impunity For The Use Of Chemical Weapons

In response to the repeated use of chemical weapons in recent years, at the beginning of 2018 France launched the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons, with Switzerland as a founding member.

The initiative promotes cooperation in gathering, compiling and retaining all available information on the circumstances surrounding chemical weapons attacks and the perpetrators. The aim is to facilitate and promote the prosecution of such crimes at international and national level. The initiative thereby raises awareness of the prohibition under international law against the use of chemical weapons and discourages future use of such weapons.

International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons 


 (en)

Last update 26.01.2022