Committee: Disarmament and International Security Committee
Topic 1: Banning the development, possession and use of Chemical Weapons
Chemical Weapons are designed to injure and eventually kill civilians and soldiers. Chemical weapons have no mercy on innocent children, agriculture and livestock, causing severe damage to sources of food of local people and causing long-lasting effects. These weapons date back to 600 BC, when water supplies were poisoned, all the way to the recent 2017 chemical attack in Syria.
The first successful attempt to ban the usage of chemical weapons was made after the horrific scenes of the consequences of the usage of chemical weapons after World War 1. The 1925 Geneva Protocol, signed by 196 States, prohibited “the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of all analogous liquids, materials or devices”. Even though it banned the usage of chemical weapons, the 1925 document failed to address the production, storage, testing, and transfer of the forbidden weapons.
After World War 2, number of attempts took place in order to go further with ban of chemical weapons. The latest and the most successful was the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), formally Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction. The aim of CWC is total chemical weapons disarmament. Signatory states must destroy all their chemical weapons and their production facilities. As of January 2017, 69,059 of 72,524 (95%) metric tonnes of chemical agent have been verifiably destroyed. More than 57% (4.97 million) of chemical munitions and containers have been destroyed. Verification of the CWC is entrusted to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), with its headquarters in The Hague. Pursuant to the Convention, inspections are regularly carried out on State Parties to verify compliance.
The main principles of Spain, as permanent members of the United nations, are the protection of peace and stability, the promotion of human rights and the creation of the necessary security conditions for the suitable development of people, institutions and State.
Spain is deeply concerned about the use of chemical weapons and has always affirmed the necessity of immediate disarmament. Spain was the first European Union country to sign and ratify this in August 1994. On 13 May 1997, Spain set up the National Authority for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (Spanish acronym: ANPAQ), tasked with managing the terms of this treaty (Royal Decree 663/1997).
Investments into new laboratories and research facilities increased analytical capacity of substances relevant to Chemical Weapon Convention. These analytical laboratories are under the auspices of CWC and at a course coordinated by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and Laboratory for the Verification of Chemical Weapons (LAVEMA). The new OPCW project was supported with a voluntary contribution from the Government of Spain.
Spain has also supported the destruction of Libyan chemical weapons in 2017. By 2018 Spain responded to the OPCW’s request, providing manpower, technical assistance and funding. The weapons were finally destroyed in Germany in 2018. This operation demonstrates Spain’s commitment to international peace and security, as well as its willingness to contribute with the international community towards a world that is free from chemical weapons.
Even though CWC has worked out quite efficiently, there are still issues that the global community faces. One of these is inability to enforce its provisions over countries that have not yet ratified the treaty, including Egypt, North Korea, South Sudan and Israel. Moreover, CWC failure to impose its provisions with respect to terrorist groups. And last but not least, the OPCW only has power to issue sanctions after a violation is found, but cannot authorize military force. In order to totally eliminate chemical weapons, OPCW should reinforce countries to bad the development, usage and transfer of chemical weapons. It is very important to force all the countries in the world to rarify the Convention in order to have peace in our world. Furthermore, Spain believes that inspections have to be carried out more frequently, especially in the least stable regions, such as Syria. CWC, along with OPCW and the UN should pressurize regions, which did not sign or rarefy CWC, in order to avoid devastating consequences seen during World Wars and eliminate this abhorrent weapon of mass destruction, making the Earth more peaceful.
See Matthew Linkie, The Defense Threat Reduction Agency: A Note on the United States’ Approach to Threat of Chemical and Biological Warfare, 16 J. CONTEMP. HEALTH L. & POL’Y 531, 552-53 (2000); Kevin J. Fitzgerald,
The Chemical Weapons Convention: Inadequate Protection from Chemical Warfare, 20 SUFFOLK TRANSNAT’L L. REV. 425, 446-47 (1997); Sewell, supra note 7, at 379.