April 2024 Newsletter
March 26 Webinar on “Current CWC Compliance Challenges”

The global taboo against chemical weapons possession and use is strong, but it cannot be taken for granted. On March 26, the Chemical Weapons Convention Coalition and the Arms Control Association hosted a webinar on current CWC compliance issues, focusing on instances of chemical attacks in Syria and allegations of prohibited uses of riot control agents by Russia in Ukraine.

The panelists were: former OPCW Director-General Ambassador Ahmet ÜzümcüFadel Abdulghany of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, and Representative of New Zealand to the Netherlands Ambassador Susannah Gordon. Amb. Üzümcü reviewed the history of the OPCW’s Fact Finding Mission and subsequent published reports of chemical attacks in Syria from 2013 onwards, which was complemented by Mr. Abdulghany’s explanation of the important on-the-ground work being done by NGOs to document chemical attacks and share their evidence with the OPCW. Ambassador Gordon spoke about the growing concerns about Russia’s unlawful use of riot control agents (RCAs) in Ukraine, and she highlighted options that member states can take to address instances such as these.  

105th meeting of the OPCW Executive Council, March 2024OPCW Releases New Reports on Past Chemical Attacks in Syria

OPCW Executive Council Convened in March
The 105th Meeting of the OPCW Executive Council in The Hague convened from March 5-9 and discussed a range of topics including how to address the threat from chemical terrorism, Syrian non-compliance, securing universal adherence to the CWC, tenure policy, and more. Official documents from the Executive Council meeting can be found here. 

OPCW Releases New Reports on Past Chemical Attacks in Syria
On February 22, the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) released its concluding report on a Syrian chemical attack dating back to 2015. The IIT report found “reasonable grounds” to believe that ISIL was responsible for the 2015 attack in Marea, Syria, in which sulfur mustard was used on a civilian population. A few days later, on February 26, a report issued by the OPCW’s Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) found that the Syrian government’s claim that ISIL was responsible for a separate attack in 2017 was not consistent with the evidence. For further details, see the news report in the April issue of Arms Control Today. 

CBWNet Publishes Two New Working Papers on Chemical Weapons Issues

Our colleagues at the CBWNetwork in Germany have recently published a new pair of working papers on “Chemical and Biological Terrorism and the Norms of the CBW Prohibition Regimes,” by Alexander Kelle, and on the OPCW and Civil Society: Considerations on Relevant Themes and Issues,” by Alexander Ghionis.  CBWNet is a joint research project of the Berlin office of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH), the Chair for Public Law and International Law at the University of Gießen (JLU), the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF), and the Carl Friedrich Weizäcker-Centre for Science and Peace Research (ZNF) at the University of Hamburg.  To download the working papers, see: https://cbwnet.org/publications/working-paper

On the Calendar

The 106th OPCW Executive Council meeting will be held from July 9-12, 2024.

The 29th Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention will be held in late November in The Hague – exact dates TBA.

News Roundup

News Articles

Algeria warns of Israel occupation possibly using chemical weapons in Gaza, Middle East Monitor, 9 March 2024

Russia appears to be using chemical weapons in Ukraine. And admitting it., Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 15 March 2024

US Intel Sounds Alarm on North Korea’s Use of Chemical WeaponsNewsweek, 11 March 2024

Syria’s Full Cooperation Essential to Closing Chemical Weapons File, Senior Official Tells Security Council, UN Press, 4 March 2024

Security Council Deems Syria’s Chemical Weapons Declaration Incomplete, Urges Nation to Close Issues, Resolve Gaps, Inconsistencies, Discrepancies, UN Press, 6 March 2024

Ukraine Accuses Russia of Using Chemical AgentArms Control Today, 1 March 2024


The potential terrorist use of large language models for chemical and biological terrorism, European Leadership Network, 5 April 2024


Commemoration of the 1988 Halabja Chemical Weapons Attack, OPCW, 16 March 2024


Condition (10)(C) Annual Report on Compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, U.S. Department of State Bureau of Arms Control, Deterrence, and Stability, 4 April 2024

Strengthening the Norms Against Chemical and Biological Weapons, CBWNet, 18 March 2024

The Chemical Weapons Convention After Its Fifth Review Conference: Key Issues for the European Union, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Papers, February 2024