Pakistan leads talks on chemical disarmament

by Nazia Sheikh

The 28th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and Their Destruction will be chaired by Ambassador Suljuk Mustansar Tarar who is Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). A significant milestone that reflects Pakistan’s dedication to creating a safer world on an international level. The Asia Group had suggested Ambassador Suljuk Mustansar Tarar’s nomination to the 193-member conference. The CSP rotates the chair post among its five regional groupings.

In modern warfare, Chemical weapons were first used During World War I, harmful gas was used by both sides to inflict horrible suffering, to significantly increase the number of casualties on the battlefield. This marked the beginning of the contemporary usage of chemical weapons. These weapons were essentially made of well-known commercial chemicals that were added to common weapons like artillery shells and grenades. Among the chemicals, used were mustard gas, which causes terrible burns on the skin, phosgene, a choking agent, and chlorine. The outcomes were widespread and frequently disastrous. That led to about 100,000 deaths. Chemical weapons have claimed more than a million deaths worldwide since the First World War. The Geneva Protocol, which forbade the use of chemical weapons in battle, was signed in 1925 as a consequence of public concern.

Chemical weapons have been used many times, most notably in the Syrian Civil War, the Iran-Iraq War (1980–88), during cold war era (1945–1991) and most recently in 2023 by Israel against Palestinians civilian in Gaza according to Human Rights Watch, “verified” the deployment of white phosphorous in civilian areas—a use of the weapon that human rights activists feel ought to be explicitly banned by international law.

A multinational agreement known as the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) forbids the use of chemical weapons and mandates their disposal after a predetermined amount of time. The convention is significantly more extensive than the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which forbids the use of chemical weapons but permits their possession.1980 saw the beginning of CWC negotiations at the UN Conference on Disarmament. On January 13, 1993, the convention became available for signatures, and on April 29, 1997, it came into effect.

The Conference of States Parties, which consists of all CWC member nations, is the main body in charge of directing the Convention’s execution. Being elected to this esteemed role is tremendous excellence for Pakistan and shows that state parties value Pakistan’s diplomacy and dedication to the CWC. Pakistan has never before been chosen to serve as Chair of the Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Several significant milestones in the Convention’s implementation have been achieved by the OPCW. The OPCW confirmed on July 7, 2023, that all chemical weapons stockpiles, totaling 72,304 metric tonnes of chemical agents, reported by the 193 States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention since 1997 have been permanently destroyed by the stringent verification procedures applied at the OPCW.

Additionally, it promotes the economic and scientific advancement of its member nations in the field of peaceful applications of chemistry. Since the CWC was ratified in 1997, Pakistan has been an active member of the OPCW and has served on the Executive Council. Pakistan’s international prestige is enhanced and its position at the top of WMD disarmament efforts is strengthened by its membership in the OPCW and participation in its decision-making process. By offering training, setting up seminars, and arranging on-site support with legislation and declarations, the OPCW assists in the national implementation of the Convention. Positive impacts from this assistance occur in other domains, advancing both technology and economy and strengthening the national capacities of Pakistan.


Nazia Sheikh is Research Officer at Center for International Strategic Studies, AJK.

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Center for International Strategic Studies AJK, King Abdullah Campus Chatter kalas Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir