Strengthening the Chemical Weapons Convention by updating Germany’s legislation

Industry inspections carried out by the OPCW

Industry inspections carried out by the OPCW, © Frank Jansen

19.03.2024 - Article

The Chemical Weapons Convention is one of the most successful multilateral disarmament treaties for the worldwide prohibition of chemical weapons. Germany’s legislation regarding the CWC has recently been revised.

By revising Germany’s legislation related to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the German Government is further reducing proliferation risks and at the same time setting a good example for the international community with regard to the national implementation of the Convention.
The German Government is thereby also carrying out the task it set itself in its National Security Strategy, namely to increase its endeavours to contain chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear risks.

In early March 2024, the changes to national legislation related to the CWC, specifically to the Implementing Act and to the Implementing Regulation, took effect. The amendments were informed by nearly 30 years of experience with implementation of the CWC, specifically industry inspections, trade in listed chemicals and the discovery of old chemical weapons.

A number of important changes have been made:

For example, a notification requirement has been established for when chemical weapons or chemicals listed under the CWC (referred to as scheduled chemicals) are found or stolen. This aims to better protect the population. Also, an appropriate legal basis has been created for the previously voluntary procedure that aims to investigate transfer discrepancies, or differences between the declarations of import and export of scheduled chemicals.

Strengthening international agreements through national legislation

The CWC, which entered into force in 1997, prohibits the development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of chemical weapons. For effective implementation of the CWC and other international agreements, national legislation must comprehensively transpose its regulations into national law.

As a specific example, German companies working with chemicals that could also be used to produce chemical weapons are inspected on a regular basis by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). National legislation regulates the competencies, rights and duties of those concerned.

To date (as of July 2023), only 128 of the 193 States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention have fully adopted national CWC implementing legislation. In revising its national legislation, Germany is also setting a good example for other States Parties.


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