Tag: chemical weapons

Chemical weapons and law enforcement under international law

An overview of the legal status of chemical weapons: prohibitions, obligations and exceptions.

December 2016


The use of chemical weapons is subject to comprehensive prohibitions under international law. Not only is the use of chemical weapons implicitly prohibited by the general rule of distinction under international humanitarian law (IHL), most imaginable uses of chemical weapons would contravene the proportionality rule under human rights law.

100 years since Verdun

A century ago, chemical weapons were used to terrible effects in the fields of France.


By Kjølv Egeland
27 May 2016

100 years ago, large parts of the globe were engulfed in one of the most devastating conflicts the world has ever seen. The Battle of Verdun, dragging on over most of the year 1916, was one of the First World War’s most devastating engagements. More than 300 000 French and German soldiers—possible a lot more—lost their lives in the hills of north-eastern France between February 21st and December 20th. As many other battles of the ‘Great War’, Verdun saw extensive use of chemical weapons—or ‘poison gas’—by both sides.

The Chemical Weapons Convention

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the law enforcement exception


The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) opened for signature in 1993 after more than a decade of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament (CD). It entered into force in 1997 and has, as of January 2016, 190 States Parties.

The history of chemical weapons

The history and properties of chemical weapons


Chemical weapons are chemicals formulated to inflict harm on humans. Modern chemical weapons are usually delivered by means of missiles, shells, or gravity bombs. By their very nature, chemical weapons are highly indiscriminate and cause superfluous injury. Due to their capacity to cause death and suffering on a wide scale, they are commonly labelled ‘weapons of mass destruction’.

Longing for Armageddon

A brief history of non-state actors’ pursuit and use of weapons of mass destruction

By Kjølv Egeland
2 June 2015

Super-villains armed with a weapon of mass destruction is the stuff of countless on-screen thrillers. But the prospect of non-state actors armed with such weapons is far from fantasy. Chemical and biological weapons have been used by terrorist organizations on several occasions, sometimes to devastating effects. Terrorists have been unsuccessful in their attempts at acquiring nuclear weapons, but not for a lack of trying. In this paper I examine the history of non-state actors’ pursuit and use of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).