The Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction (GP or Global Partnership) began at the 2002 Kananaskis G8 Summit as a 10-year, $20 billion initiative to prevent terrorists or states that support them from acquiring or developing weapons of mass destruction.  Since its inception, the GP has grown to include more than 30 active partner countries and has delivered well over $22 billion in programming worldwide to prevent chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism. Consistent with the Kananaskis Principles and Guidelines, Global Partnership members committed in 2011 to continue to implement effective and appropriate measures to address evolving chemical weapons (CW) threats and in 2012 established a Chemical Security Working Group (CSWG) to focus on coordination of international chemical security strategies in support of the overarching GP mission. The first meeting of the CSWG took place in 2013. The current chairs are Canada and the United States.

While maintaining and supporting the modalities for the Chemical Security Working Group agreed in 2012, and in furtherance of the broader goals of mitigating threats posed by chemical weapons, enhancing chemical security across the globe and improving coordination of chemical security programs and activities between and among governmental and non-governmental parties, the CSWG is guided by the following “Strategic Vision”. This Strategic Vision aims to enhance mutually reinforcing and complementary cooperation with, and efforts of, other international stakeholders, including the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), while avoiding unnecessary duplication. In line with the abovementioned modalities, the Global Partnership will continue to prioritize the mitigation of all manner of threats posed by chemical weapons, including state-based CW programs (building on the important chemical weapons destruction and monitoring work supported by Global Partnership members in Russia, Libya and Syria) and the acquisition and use of CW by non-state actors. The CSWG will also monitor and consider responses to new and emerging CW threats.  The CSWG assesses that the security and safety of chemicals of interest (i.e. chemicals susceptible to use as weapons or weapons precursors) are important factors for addressing the dynamic challenges facing international peace and security today. The CSWG will therefore focus efforts on countering the spread and use of CW-related chemicals and precursors, support initiatives that promote chemical security across industry and other relevant communities, and maintain awareness of—and contribute as appropriate to—chemical safety-related efforts. Accordingly the CSSWG will focus on the following areas:

  • Supporting Chemical Weapons Destruction: Since its establishment in 2002, the Global Partnership has provided critical support for the destruction of declared chemical weapon stockpiles in Russia (40,000 metric tonnes (MT)), Libya (26 MT of CW and 1,181 MT of precursors) and Syria (1,328 MT). In recognition that serious state and non-state actor based CW threats persist and are likely to continue to emerge and evolve for years to come, the CSWG will maintain a priority focus on chemical weapons destruction, with a view to identifying opportunities for potential contributions by Global Partnership members to support destruction of newly declared stockpiles.
  • Preventing and Responding to Chemical Weapons Use: The repeated and systematic use of chemical weapons or toxic chemicals as weapons in Syria and northern Iraq since 2013 and the use of CW at a Malaysian airport (February 2017) and in Salisbury, United Kingdom (March 2018) has threatened the hard-won taboo against chemical weapons use.  The CSWG recognizes the importance of identifying and holding to account those responsible for CW attacks and is committed to supporting international efforts to investigate, monitor and attribute responsibility for chemical weapons attacks. In this regard, the CSWG will seek to identify ways and means for Global Partnership members to actively support initiatives that aim to mitigate current and potential CW threats, including the OPCW’s Fact Finding Mission (FFM).
  • Strengthening and Supporting the OPCW: The CSWG recognizes the critical role played by the OPCW in preventing, detecting and responding to all manner of CW threats. It acknowledges that the OPCW requires additional resources if it is to remain relevant and effective in investigating and analyzing CW incidents and in monitoring and verifying State Parties compliance with their CWC obligations and is therefore committed to supporting the Organisation to upgrade its Chemical Laboratory to a Centre for Chemistry and Technology.
  • Supporting and Enhancing Chemical Non-Proliferation Instruments, Institutions and Practices: The CSWG will promote the full implementation of existing non-proliferation obligations, such as those contained in the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540.  The CSWG will likewise support efforts to strengthen and ensure the effectiveness of existing tools, such as the UN Secretary General’s and CWC-based mechanisms, to investigate alleged uses of chemical weapons, and will encourage support for initiatives to reduce the risks associated with relevant chemicals of interest at national and regional levels. This includes support for effective border controls, legislation and regulatory frameworks, law enforcement efforts and international cooperation to detect, deter and interdict in cases of illicit trafficking of CW-related items, and effective national export and transshipment controls over items on the Australia Group’s common control lists.
  • Fostering collaboration on national, regional, and global security initiatives aimed at preventing and/or responding to the misuse of chemicals: Collaboration with governments, chemical industry, civil society and multi-national organizations (including the EU, the OPCW, INTERPOL, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and United Nations agencies such as UNODA, UNODC and UNOCT) is essential to prevent the manufacture and/or acquisition and misuse of industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and explosives as weapons. It is anticipated that this will be achieved by exchange of security information, ideas, and best practices, as well as a commitment to interagency and multi-national coordination of chemical security efforts. Similar engagement and planning is central to the swift response necessary to minimize the impacts of the intentional misuse of chemicals.
  • Enhancing the security of chemicals: A comprehensive approach to chemical security must address all stages of chemical lifecycles (e.g. manufacture, storage, transit). The CSWG is committed to assisting governments, private industry, and international organizations to develop and implement strategies aimed at securing chemicals throughout their lifecycles, with a particular emphasis on secure transit and improving border and customs controls to prevent illicit trafficking.
  • Promoting chemical security culture globally: The CSWG will strive to enhance a culture of chemical security globally and will emphasize the creation and implementation of programs to promote chemical security culture.  Acknowledging the shared goals of chemical safety and security measures, as well as the well-established and appreciated culture of chemical safety, the CSWG will look for ways to promote chemical security culture in a manner that leverages existing and introduces new initiatives, as necessary. All stakeholders should be encouraged to fully commit to integrating and enhancing the chemical security culture. The better exchange of information and coordination is a must in this regard. The CSSWG will seek to coordinate donors and chemical security programs and projects to assist in making an efficient outcome to this chemical security effort.

In seeking to achieve these outcomes, the CSWG will maintain awareness of the following key principles in the development of global chemical security:

  • The use of chemical weapons and other malicious exploitation of relevant chemicals of interest continue to pose significant threats to all countries. The GP CSWG will, therefore, prioritize the provision of assistance to at-risk partner countries to enhance their capabilities to prevent, detect and respond effectively to the use or threat of use of CW or toxic chemicals as weapons.
  • The nature of travel, trade, and commerce today means that a gap or vulnerability anywhere in the world may impact security thousands of miles away.  This is particularly true in the realm of chemical security given the ubiquitous nature of chemicals, the global nature of the chemical industry corporations and interdependencies that cross borders, the increased commerce through the internet, and the ease of movement of chemical materials across borders.
  • In light of the complex nature of the chemical industry, the multitude of different ways in which chemicals may be misused, the varying levels of maturity of chemical security efforts across the globe, and other factors, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
  • With the majority of the world’s chemical infrastructure and materials in the hands of the private sector, industry involvement in chemical security activities is essential and strong government, industry, civil society, and law enforcement collaboration is critical to success.
  • Chemical industry stakeholders often suffer from limited resources for and history in addressing chemical security and safety. As continuous efforts are being conducted for the whole industry, it would be of a value to focus some of these, including best practices exchanges and capacity building, towards smaller and medium enterprises, which often remain much below the governmental scope.

Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction

Chemical Security Sub-Working Group

Strategic Vision