The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction requires a State Party to the Convention to declare all relevant military and civilian facilities which are subject to declaration not later than 30 days after the Convention enters into force (EIF) for it and subsequently on an annual basis.

Most military and Schedule facilities are under the centralised control of the governmental authorities of States Parties and are, therefore, much easier for a government to identify. Civilian industrial facilities, however, particularly in countries with a free market economy or in economic transition, are less likely to be subject to central government control and accountability. Therefore, industry databases available to government agencies, including the CWC National Authority, might not be suitable to identify accurately those facilities probably subject to the provisions of the CWC.

This makes the task of identifying facilities likely to be covered by the Convention, in particular with regard to facilities possibly involved in activities with scheduled chemicals, complex and rather difficult.

In the light of this difficulty, some States Parties, even since the time of the Preparatory Commission have requested advice from the Secretariat and have urged the development of a search methodology as a guideline to tracking down civilian chemical industry facilities covered by the CWC.

In an attempt to respond to these requests, the Secretariat conducted informal consultations with:

  • governments of States Parties and their agencies;
  • chemical industry associations; and
  • chemical industry marketing and manufacturing managers.

In addition, the Secretariat consulted other international chemical organisations and available chemical databases.

It was clear that there is no unified source or a general recipe for readily identifying the presence or absence of chemical facilities that might be subject to the Convention. Complications in the identification arise, inter alia, from the absence of direct links between kinds of products, product names, chemical trade names, and scientific chemical nomenclature. Such complications make the design and execution of data searches in compendia of data from technical literature, government agencies, trade organisations, marketing surveys, customs records, and other resources very difficult.

There are also great differences in the way chemical technology, research facilities, and chemical industries are organised from one State Party to another. Declarable chemical activities may be carried out in medical institutes, pharmaceutical production facilities, industrial plant sites, pilot plants or laboratories, either under private ownership or under government control.

Oversight of chemical activities by environmental, labour or other agencies may or may not exist. Even where such oversight is carried out, the national legislation may preclude the use of data gathered for one purpose being used for any other purpose. Moreover, in many cases there is simply no national list of all products and chemicals which are produced, processed or consumed within a country’s borders.

General Approach to Identifying Facilities probably covered by the CWC

The Secretariat has developed a general suggested approach to help in identifying facilities to be declared under the provisions of the CWC. This approach is based on a list of potential resources that States Parties may be able to access, together with general guidance on how to utilise these resources to facilitate the identification process.

Potential Resources

Among the many available resources on the basis of which a search method can be designed to identify declarable and inspectable facilities, the following should be mentioned:

  1. Schedules of chemicals, as they appear in the Annex on Chemicals and the definition of discrete organic chemical (DOC), including unscheduled discrete organic chemicals containing the elements phosphorus, sulfur, or fluorine (PSF-chemicals) as defined in the Verification Annex, Part I, paragraph 4 and Part IX, paragraph 1;
  2. The Handbook on Chemicals developed by the Secretariat as an aid to States Parties in identifying declarable activities. This lists over 2000 individual chemicals that fall in the Schedules of chemicals in the CWC in the Annex on Chemicals and is particularly useful to assist in recognising chemicals included in the various groups listed in Schedules 1 and 2;
  3. Lists of types or categories of products that could include scheduled chemicals in their manufacturing steps, whether as raw materials, precursors, intermediates or products. An illustrative and non-exhaustive list of types or categories of products is available. A list of Schedule 2 and 3 Chemicals – Products/Applications per Industry Sector known to the Secretariat has also been drafted and will be maintained to reflect new information as it becomes available. Moreover, illustrative groups of organic chemical products taken from Chapter 29 of the Harmonised System (HS) code of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) could be used as a compendium of chemical activity areas, in particular regarding the identification of manufacturers of DOCs. Chapter 28 of the HS code covers some other scheduled chemicals;
  4. Possible information resources where a link between facilities and products is available, namely:
    • computerised commercial databases;
    • government records and databases (in particular, customs records);
    • chemical and related industry associations;
    • chambers of commerce;
    • non-computerised commercial listings and information;
    • relevant UN bodies and non-profit public interest international foundations and institutions, non-governmental organisations etc. and
    • the Internet.

General Guidance

The proposed approach for setting up a general search sequence is presented below for scheduled chemicals under (a) and for DOCs including PSF-chemicals under (b). This approach is based on the assumption that the potential resources listed in subparagraph 2.1 c. above are available and are made accessible to National Authorities or to other agencies charged with the identification of facilities. It must be emphasised that the search can begin at any point in the process, e.g. a National Authority with an excellent industry facility database might simply compare this database with the chemicals mentioned in the CWC in order to establish an initial facility list. For National Authorities with less precise information resources the whole procedure may need to be completed.

  1. Approach for facilities involved in scheduled chemicals

    In general, the approach for facilities involved in scheduled chemicals entails the following:

    • a review of each of the Schedules of chemicals in the CWC;
    • this can be augmented with a study of the Handbook on Chemicals developed by the Secretariat;
    • a search for a correlation between types or categories of products, their raw material precursors and/or intermediates and the scheduled chemicals;
    • a search within the possible information resources for those industrial facilities involved with relevant types or categories of products, also taking into account the document Schedule 2 and 3 Chemicals – Products/Applications per Industry Sector;
    • the identification of facilities possibly involved with scheduled chemicals with a view to producing an initial list of facilities;
    • the refinement of the initial list of facilities with a view to producing a national industrial facility list for declaration purposes; and
    • the use of the refined initial list to gather information on the production, processing, consumption, import and export volumes of scheduled chemicals.
  2. Approach for facilities producing unscheduled discrete organic chemicals including PSF-chemicals

    The proposed approach for facilities producing unscheduled discrete organic chemicals including PSF-chemicals differs somewhat from that considered for scheduled chemicals. The difference arises because the term “discrete organic chemical” could be applied to virtually any organic chemical as compared with those included in the schedules of chemicals of the CWC, which are specific chemicals (even if these chemicals are noted as a group). Thus, in this case, the approach can be the following:

    • a search for a correlation between the chemicals included under the definition of unscheduled discrete organic chemicals including PSF-chemicals and those covered by the lists in types or categories of products and/or groups of products covered under Chapter 29 of the Harmonised System (HS) code, as well as Chapter 28 of the HS code, including their starting materials and intermediates;
    • a search within the possible information resources for industrial facilities involved with types or categories of products or chemicals covered by Chapter 29 of the Harmonised System (HS) code, with a view to producing an initial list of facilities;
    • contacts with those facilities on the initial list to identify whether they have anything to declare taking into account the thresholds and ranges for DOCs and/or PSF-chemicals established in Part IX of the Verification Annex; and
    • the refinement of the initial list of facilities to produce a national industrial facility list for declaration purposes.
  3. Remarks

    During the search process it should be borne in mind that the Convention establishes a verification regime only for:

    • Schedule 1 chemical production facilities;
    • Schedule 2 chemical production, processing and consumption plants;
    • Schedule 3 chemical production facilities; and
    • Other chemical production facilities (OCPFs) manufacturing unscheduled discrete organic chemicals (DOCs) including PSF-chemicals.

    On the other hand, there are certain chemical activities that are specifically excluded from consideration. These chemical activities are those dealing with:

    • Oxides and sulfides of carbon and metal carbonates;
    • Plant sites that EXCLUSIVELY produce hydrocarbons (i.e. chemicals containing only carbon and hydrogen, irrespective of the number of carbon atoms in the compound);
    • Plant sites that EXCLUSIVELY produced explosives;
    • Oligomers and polymers (per the decision of the First Conference of the States Parties, C-I/DEC.39 of 16 May 1997);
    • Compounds containing only carbon and metal (per the decision of the First Conference of the States Parties, C-I/DEC.39 of 16 May 1997);
    • Compounding/processing plants except those that process Schedule 2 chemicals (e.g. polymer compounding plants or formulating plants); and
    • Extraction or purification activities — except for Schedule 2 chemicals — where no chemical change occurs to the chemical in question during the activity.

    The chemical facilities identified in any search, but which are considered excluded in terms of the above should, however, be periodically reviewed at a national level, in order to make sure that they do not include other activities likely to be covered by declaration and inspection procedures. For example, it is possible that a plant site that produces only polyurethane polymers is nevertheless declarable because it is compounding the polymers with the Schedule 2 fire-retardant chemicals DMMP or DEEP. Similarly, a petroleum refinery might, on the same site, be manufacturing additives that are DOC or PSF chemicals, for the purpose of formulating them into lubricating oils or petroleum fuels.

A general approach such as that just described here will not of itself guarantee the completeness of the eventual list of facilities. The effectiveness of any search methodology is only as good as the information in the accessed resources and the quality of the effort to make effective use of the information. In relation to the last point, it is clear that the National Authority should be in a position not only to thoroughly know the provisions of the Convention and be aware of the current status of their interpretation within the OPCW, but to understand the implications of the results of a search process and be able to judge technically from this how to proceed. It has been shown in practice that it is highly beneficial for a National Authority to have on its staff at least one person knowledgeable in organic chemistry and also familiar with the chemical industry. Alternatively, the National Authority could contract in the services of such expertise on a consultancy basis to assist it in preparing its declarations.

The approach outlined here could quite possibly overestimate the number of declarable facilities, as the correlation between the Schedules of chemicals and the types or categories of products is not as straightforward as may appear to be the case.

Any initial list of facilities generated by the proposed search procedure will probably include facilities that are neither involved with any scheduled chemicals nor with relevant unscheduled DOCs. Whether or not the listed facilities actually produce, process, or consume scheduled chemicals will require further inquiries involving contact with the facility management.

Even if it turns out that a facility does produce, process or consume scheduled chemicals, a further screening must be conducted in relation to the quantities of the chemical(s) involved in order to confirm whether the activity is declarable or not. The search methodology is thus an approach that compiles a list of potential declarable sites and then eliminates from that list those sites that do not in fact qualify for declarations.

It is important to note that available information resources will differ from one country to another. A successful effort in one country will, therefore, not guarantee a similarly successful effort in another.

In the case of a country planning to ratify or accede to the Convention, it is essential that an effective National Authority be identified as early as possible and empowered to prepare for the submission of the initial declarations. The National Authority will need to start conducting surveys for the purpose of data acquisition, particularly where governmental data is concerned, at the earliest possible time. As noted above, there are but 30 days after entry into force (EIF) of the Convention for each State Party to make its declarations to the OPCW. In this way the National Authority will be able to:

  • estimate the amount of work and the costs involved in implementing the Convention at EIF;
  • compile aggregate information about chemical facilities, plants and plant sites; and
  • identify those resources which can assist the national implementation and legislation process.

In the case of an existing State Party, it should be emphasised that the preparation for the submission of the initial declarations, whilst a formidable task, cannot be considered to be the final activity in the implementation process. The chemical industry is, especially in volatile economic times, an extremely variable sector of the economies of most countries. There is a never-ending succession of mergers, acquisitions, bankruptcies, reorganisations, etc. which frequently impacts on the list of facilities that are declarable and inspectable in terms of the CWC. It is thus of paramount importance that the data acquisition process described above should be an ongoing activity of the National Authority, to ensure that the annual declarations are correct. The OPCW can only be as effective and efficient in its verification activities as the quality of these declarations allow.

It is hoped that this general approach will assist States Parties in their continuous implementation efforts. The Secretariat can, upon request, provide necessary advice and assistance to States Parties with regard to the implementation of this approach.

The definition of discrete organic chemical (DOC) is contained in the Verification Annex, Part I, paragraph 4:

“Discrete Organic Chemical” means any chemical belonging to the class of chemical compounds consisting of all compounds of carbon except for its oxides, sulfides and metal carbonates, identifiable by chemical name, by structural formula, if known, and by Chemical Abstracts Service registry number, if assigned.

PSF chemicals are defined in the Verification Annex, Part IX, paragraph 1:

…an unscheduled discrete organic chemical containing the elements phosphorus, sulfur or fluorine (hereinafter referred to as … “PSF-chemical”).


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