Chemical Weapons

According to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the term “Chemical weapons” refers to, together or separately, the following: a) toxic chemicals and their precursors, except where intended for purposes not prohibited under the Convention, as long as the types and quantities are consistent with such purposes; b) munitions and devices, specifically designed to cause death or other harm through the toxic properties of those toxic chemicals; and c) any equipment specifically designed for use directly in connection with the employment of those munitions and devices. A toxic chemical agent is any chemical which, through its chemical action on life processes, can cause death, temporary incapacitation, or permanent harm to humans or animals. Their use in war was first banned by the 1925 Geneva Protocol.

The use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic triggered an unprecedented international response. This led to the creation of an ambitious plan to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons program and prevent future use or proliferation of these abhorrent weapons. Canada has been a key contributor to international efforts in the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. You can read about these efforts and Canada’s contribution, here.

Canada is a party to the CWC since its entry into force in 1997. The CWC is a disarmament treaty which is implemented by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) based in The Hague, the Netherlands.

The disarmament provisions of the CWC involve the destruction of all chemical weapons in a State Party's possession, all production facilities used since 1946 to produce chemical weapons and any chemical weapons previously abandoned on the territory of another State Party. Since the basic raw materials for the production of chemical weapons are available in the chemical industry, verification measures are required for the non-proliferation aspects of the Convention.

Under the CWC, each State Party is obliged declare to the OPCW annual data on its chemical industry and to accept international verification of its compliance with the provisions of the Convention. The verification system of the CWC is based upon each State Party providing declarations that are verified by the OPCW through data monitoring and on-site routine inspections.

Every State Party to the CWC must establish a National Authority to serve as the national focal point for liaison with the OPCW and with other States Parties. The Canadian National Authority is located at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. 

Regulations under the CWCIA can be found here and here.

Through its Global Partnership Program, Canada has provided significant contributions to assist with the destruction of chemical weapons and related activities in countries such as Russia, Libya and Syria.

Canadian National Authority - Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)

The Canadian National Authority is located at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. It is mandated to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act, while minimizing its impact on Canadian industry, research, and other institutions.

If you believe you are affected by the obligations of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), please see the "How the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) Affects You" page.