Every year, on 30 November, United Nations observes the Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare to pay tribute to millions of lives lost round the globe in the wake of chemical warfare.
In his opening statement, during the 20th session of the Congress of the States Parties in 2015, the Director-General had announced, "To honour the victims of chemical warfare, it is proposed to have the Remembrance Day on 30 November. It can be marked every year on the first day of the regular session of the Conference of the States Parties from 2016, drawing on participation by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including victim-assistance associations."
The dark history of chemical warfare dates back to more than a century ago. During World War I (1914-1918), chemical weapons were used in abundance that resulted into a catastrophe. More than 1,00,000 people lost their lives. It is estimated around a million others sustained various degrees of injuries. Incidentally, no chemical weapon was used during World War II.
Acknowledging the immense magnitude of the loss of lives and property that results from the aftermath of a chemical warfare, several countries realised that it was high time a comprehensive ban was imposed on such weapons. Adopted in 1993, the Chemical Weapons Convention or CWC was formed on 29 April 1997. It comprised of a Preamble, 24 Articles, and three Annexes — the Annex on Chemicals, the Verification Annex and the Confidentiality Annex. The Preamble determines, "for the sake of all mankind, to exclude completely the possibility of the use of chemical weapons."
As a result, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was established by the States Parties present in the above-mentioned convention. Its objective remains to comply with the purpose of the 1997 Convention and "to ensure the implementation of its provisions, including those for international verification of compliance with it, and to provide a forum for consultation and cooperation among States Parties," as stated in the Article VIII of the CWC.
The CWC aims to eliminate "an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by States Parties." About 98 percent of the global population and landmass, as well as 98 percent of the worldwide chemical industry find representatives as State Members of the OPCW.
For its extensive efforts towards elimination of chemical weapons, the OPCW was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.
Updated Date: Nov 30, 2018 09:29 AM