The 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (CWC) prohibits the development, production, acquisition and use of chemical weapons. The CWC comprises four core areas:
- the destruction of all declared chemical weapons;
- the global verification of the relevant chemical industry and government facilities;
- the provision of assistance and protection against chemical weapons; and
- the promotion of international cooperation in the peaceful use of chemistry.
Since its entry into force, the CWC has achieved near universality. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), based in The Hague, is the implementing body for the CWC. The OPCW monitors the destruction of declared chemical weapons stockpiles and conducts inspections of relevant industrial facilities and government research laboratories in the states parties. Over 98% of the world's declared stockpiles of chemical agents have been destroyed to date. In 2013, the OPCW was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its services to international disarmament.
In view of the expected destruction of the world's chemical weapons stockpiles, the focus is increasingly shifting to preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons, addressing threats posed by non-state actors and preserving the OPCW's expertise. Staying on top of and adapting to scientific and technological developments is equally critical. As a regular member of the OPCW's Scientific Advisory Board, Switzerland plays a very active role in this area.
Under its obligation to provide mutual assistance in the event of a chemical weapons incident, Switzerland keeps protective and decontamination material as well as detection equipment and field laboratories on standby and available on short notice at the request of the OPCW. Switzerland offers training courses at home and abroad to train foreign instructors in the correct handling of hazardous materials.
Switzerland has also organised the Spiez CONVERGENCE conference series since 2014.The conference brings together experts from research, industry and politics to discuss the consequences of the increasing convergence of chemical and biological sciences on the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention.
Spiez CONVERGENCE (en)