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Rule 74.

Chemical Weapons
Rule 74. The use of chemical weapons is prohibited.
Summary
State practice establishes this rule as a norm of customary international law applicable in both
international and non-international armed conflicts.

International armed conflicts
The use of chemical weapons is prohibited in international armed conflicts in a series of
treaties, including the Hague Declaration concerning Asphyxiating Gases, the Geneva Gas
Protocol, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Statute of the International Criminal
Court.[1] At present, only 13 States are not party to either the Geneva Gas Protocol or the
Chemical Weapons Convention. [2] Of these, at least three have made statements to the effect
that the use of chemical weapons is unlawful, or have indicated that they do not possess or use
them or that they are committed to their elimination. [3] The prohibition is also contained in a
number of other instruments. [4]
Numerous military manuals restate the prohibition of the use of chemical weapons. [5] This
prohibition is also contained in the legislation of many States. [6] There are numerous
statements and other practice by States from all parts of the world to the effect that the use of
chemical weapons is prohibited under customary international law. [7] Most allegations of use
since the 1930s either are unsubstantiated or have been denied; the few confirmed cases have
been widely denounced by other States. [8] There is also national case-law to the effect that the
use of chemical weapons is prohibited under customary international law. [9]
There is increasing evidence that it may now be unlawful to retaliate in kind to another State’s
use of chemical weapons. There are still 21 reservations to the Geneva Gas Protocol stating
that if an adverse party (and in some cases that party’s ally) does not respect the Protocol, the
ratifying State will no longer consider itself bound by it. [10] However, 16 of these States are
party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits all use and to which no
reservations are allowed. This leaves only five States (Angola, Iraq, Israel, Democratic
People’s Republic of Korea and Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) which, under treaty law, could avail
themselves of their reserved right to retaliate in kind to the first use of chemical weapons. Of
these, three (Israel, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) have
asserted that they will never use chemical weapons or are strongly committed to their
elimination.[11] It is significant that “employing asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and all
analogous liquids, materials or devices” is listed in the Statute of the International Criminal
Court as a war crime over which the Court has jurisdiction, and that the crime is not limited to
first use of such weapons. [12]
The US Naval Handbook implies that, for non-parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention,
retaliation in kind is lawful, but that it must stop once the use that prompted the retaliation has
terminated.[13] However, in January 1991, both the United States and the United Kingdom
stated that they expected Iraq to abide by its obligations under the Geneva Gas Protocol and
not use chemical weapons, even though Iraq had made a “no first use” reservation. [14] The
Islamic Republic of Iran stated in 1987 that it had never retaliated against Iraq’s use of
chemical weapons, although its position at the time was that the Geneva Gas Protocol only
prohibited first use. [15]
In several resolutions between 1986 and 1988, the UN Security Council condemned the use of
chemical weapons in the Iran–Iraq War without any regard to whether the use was a first use or
in retaliation. [16]
In 1990 and 1991, the ICRC reminded the parties to the Gulf War that the use of chemical
weapons was prohibited. [17] The parties concerned had “no first use” reservations to the
Geneva Gas Protocol, and the Chemical Weapons Convention did not yet exist.

Non-international armed conflicts
The prohibition of the use of chemical weapons contained in the Chemical Weapons
Convention applies in all circumstances, including in non-international armed conflicts. [18] In
addition, the prohibition is contained in several other instruments pertaining also to noninternational armed conflicts. [19]
Several military manuals which apply or have been applied in non-international armed conflicts
restate the prohibition on using chemical weapons. [20] This prohibition is also contained in the
legislation of numerous States. [21] Colombia’s Constitutional Court has held that the prohibition
of the use of chemical weapons in non-international armed conflicts is part of customary

§ 50)... § 255)... Haiti. Italy (ibid. § 22). §§ 51–52). § 46). § 41). § 420) (prohibition of first use) and the reported practice of the Islamic Republic of Iran (ibid.[23] Furthermore... §§ 35–37). stated that this use was a violation of the Geneva Gas Protocol and international humanitarian law. France (ibid.g. § 25)..[22] Allegations of use of chemical weapons by the Russian Federation in Chechnya. Switzerland (ibid. No official contrary practice was found. Belgium (ibid.. § 371).. Cameroon (ibid.. Oxford Manual of Naval War.. Myanmar. § 1). Netherlands (ibid... Belgium (ibid. France (ibid.. § 44). the statements of Belgium (ibid. II. Article I (ibid.. §§ 38–40). Sudan against armed opposition groups and Turkey in south-eastern Turkey were denied by the governments concerned. [5] See. New Zealand (ibid... § 15). the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia held that “there undisputedly emerged a general consensus in the international community on the principle that the use of [chemical] weapons is also prohibited in internal armed conflicts”.. Russian Federation (ibid. Canada (ibid.. § 222). Democratic Republic of the Congo.. New Zealand (ibid.. e. § 379). § 29). Niue. § 295). § 46) and United States (ibid. [8] See. § 160). as States generally do not have a different set of military weapons for international and non-international armed conflicts. Poland (ibid. Egypt (ibid. §§ 44–45). Democratic Kampuchea (ibid.. § 49). Saudi Arabia (ibid. Chad. Report of the Commission on Responsibility (ibid. 24.. § 20).international law. Kenya (ibid.g..... § 59) (prohibition of first use). Mendoza Declaration on Chemical and Biological Weapons (ibid. Canada (ibid. [28] Hague Declaration concerning Asphyxiating Gases (cited in Vol. South Africa (ibid. § 347).g. Romania (ibid. Chemical Weapons Convention. § 42). e. §§ 31–32). Italy (ibid. Nigeria (ibid. § 173). Hungary (ibid. § 17). there are numerous statements to the effect that chemical weapons must never be used and must be eliminated.. §§ 53–54). § 21). as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia recalled in the Tadić case in 1995.. § 177). Switzerland (ibid. China (ibid. the military manuals of Israel (ibid. § 353). § 60). the international community condemned Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against the Kurds.. Haiti (ibid. Czechoslovakia (ibid..... Cartagena Declaration on Weapons of Mass Destruction (ibid. §§ 55–59) and Yugoslavia (ibid. Geneva Gas Protocol (ibid.. § 324). § 288). Sweden (ibid. [26] In a Memorandum on Respect for International Humanitarian Law in Angola in 1994.. ICC Statute. § 389). Ukraine (ibid. Denmark (ibid.. e. the ICRC reminded the parties to the conflict that the use of chemical weapons was prohibited. New Zealand (ibid. Israel (ibid. [2] Bahamas. Republic of Korea (ibid.. Ch. § 243). e. for example. § 279). §§ [1] . United Kingdom (ibid. § 203). [6] See. Bosnia and Herzegovina (ibid.. Ecuador (ibid.. § 43). § 343).. §§ 61–117). South Africa (ibid. [3] See the statements of the Democratic Republic of the Congo ( ibid. [27] Practice is in conformity with the rule’s applicability in both international and non-international armed conflicts.. Djibouti. IndiaPakistan Declaration on Prohibition of Chemical Weapons ( ibid.. § 240) and Honduras (ibid.. Section 6(1)(b)(xviii) (ibid. § 144). § 34). 2000/15.g.. § 30).. § 24)... § 395). the legislation (ibid. Netherlands (ibid.. § 4). the statements of Belarus (ibid.. § 48). [4] See. Marshall Islands. § 41)....... § 196).. Germany (ibid.... Tanzania (ibid. Article 16(1) (ibid. although Angola had not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention. Somalia and Vanuatu. e.. § 266). § 443). Spain (ibid. Comoros.g. Congo. Lesotho (ibid. § 320)....2 (ibid. Colombia (ibid. Germany (ibid. §§ 26–27). § 47). UN Secretary-General’s Bulletin. the military manuals of Australia (ibid. Section 6. § 208). United States (ibid. §§ 151–152). § 187).. No State has claimed that chemical weapons may lawfully be used in either international or non-international armed conflicts.. UNTAET Regulation No. § 28). § 414) and United States (ibid. [24] The United Kingdom.... § 375). [7] See. United Kingdom (ibid. Bulgaria (ibid. § 242). § 33). Article 8(2)(b)(xviii) (ibid. Netherlands (ibid.... § 16). § 13).. USSR (ibid.. § 150).. On the contrary.. Honduras. § 361) and Zimbabwe (ibid. [25] In the Tadić case referred to above.

see also the legislation of Bulgaria (ibid. Italy (ibid. Portugal. [15] Iran.. Memorandum on the Applicability of International Humanitarian Law (ibid. Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and IHL in the Philippines. Jordan. § 448)... § 118).. § 43). United States (ibid. § 23). §§ 439–440). 424 and 430) and Viet Nam (ibid. § 313). § 344).. 416... Russian Federation (ibid. § 96).. Fiji.. Cambodia (and formerly Kampuchea) (ibid.. the military manuals of Australia (ibid... § 499).. § 68). Diplomatic Note to Iraq (ibid. § 98). Norway (ibid. § 255). Article 4(4) ( ibid. § 111). §§ 260–263).. § 366) and Turkey (ibid.. Part IV. 418. §§ 109-110).Shimoda case (ibid. § 505) and Press Release No.. § 33). Department of State.. Bangladesh. § 103). [18] Chemical Weapons Convention.. §§ 371–372)..2 (ibid. § 15). Sudan (ibid.. § 82). § 92).. Portugal (ibid. § 75).. Turkey (ibid. Canada (ibid. Ukraine (ibid. Japan (ibid. § 50) and Yugoslavia (ibid. Naval Handbook (ibid. Peru (ibid. District Court of Tokyo. Finland (ibid. § 350). Canada (ibid. § 61).. Italy (ibid... Res. Russian Federation (ibid.. § 319). [13] United States. Section 6.. Spain (ibid. [16] UN Security Council... Sweden (ibid. 620 (ibid. Poland (ibid. C-225/95 (ibid. Constitutional Court. . Res. [21] See. Panama (ibid. New Zealand (ibid.. § 80). the application of which is not excluded in time of non-international armed conflict.. e. § 397). Article 8(2)(b)(xviii) (ibid.. Papua New Guinea. § 250). § 21). § 120). § 85). Interlocutory Appeal (ibid. § 506).. Islamic Republic of Iran (ibid. § 108). § 78)... § 410) and Statement by the Minister of State... e.g. § 42)... § 119). § 66)... Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (ibid. § 366) and Yugoslavia (ibid. 612 (ibid. Luxembourg (ibid. China. Sweden (ibid.. § 100). § 106). § 77)... § 333).. §§ 38– 40). Ecuador (ibid. § 97). § 338). Res. §§ 278–279). Nigeria. [19] See. § 81). Colombia. § 264). § 260). Yugoslavia (ibid. Hungary (ibid. Australia (ibid. Pakistan. § 250). e... § 105). Kuwait. Constitutional Case No. § 91).. Germany (ibid. Article I (ibid... [23] See the statements of the Russian Federation (ibid. § 34). [24] ICTY. United Kingdom (ibid. United Kingdom (ibid. Israel (ibid. Mongolia (ibid.. § 388). Colombia (ibid....... §§ 88–89). § 79). Angola. Tadić case... Singapore (ibid.. [12] ICC Statute. [20] See.. Republic of Korea (ibid. [22] Colombia... § 13). § 269). Slovenia (ibid. Kazakhstan (ibid... § 99). Georgia (ibid.. UN Secretary-General’s Bulletin..g.. § 450) and Res.. § 20). § 243). § 424).. Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. § 269). Islamic Republic of. South Africa (ibid. Ecuador (ibid.. §§ 297–299).. Cartagena Declaration on Weapons of Mass Destruction ( ibid.. USSR (ibid. § 411). India. § 63). Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.g... § 434) and the reported practice of China (ibid. [17] ICRC. §§ 397. [10] Algeria.. § 449).. Islamic Republic of Iran (ibid. Luxembourg (ibid. Syrian Arab Republic (ibid. §§ 283–284) and Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (ibid. Netherlands (ibid.. Israel. Sudan (ibid. Romania (ibid. Iraq... § 116). Peru (ibid. § 350). § 86). Viet Nam and Yugoslavia.. Kenya (ibid. Japan. Constitutional Case No. § 87). § 378). § 84). § 59).. § 24). Japan (ibid. § 119). Bosnia and Herzegovina (ibid. § 29). § 32). Foreign and Commonwealth Office ( ibid. 582 (ibid. Switzerland (ibid.. § 60).. e. Constitutional Court. 598 (ibid. § 107). §§ 406–407 and 409–412).g. § 117) and Zimbabwe (ibid. United States... § 113)... § 104).. Statement before the First Committee of the UN General Assembly (ibid. § 451). Germany (ibid.. Pakistan (ibid.. United States (ibid. Netherlands (ibid. Tajikistan (ibid.230 and 233).. C-225/95 (ibid. § 49)... Czech Republic (ibid.. § 26). [14] United Kingdom. the legislation of Armenia (ibid.. [9] See. § 74).... Ireland (ibid. § 388). India (ibid. § 90). Estonia (ibid. Letter to the President of the UN Security Council ( ibid. Italy (ibid.. France (ibid. India (ibid. United States. Croatia (ibid.. § 65). South Africa (ibid. Solomon Islands. 1658 (ibid. § 102).... Mendoza Declaration on Chemical and Biological Weapons ( ibid. [11] See the statements of Israel (ibid. Hungary (ibid... § 114). Norway (ibid.. § 328). § 332). § 83) and Italy (ibid... § 301). Belarus (ibid. Bahrain.

Republic of Korea (ibid. §§ 146–147). §§ 261–263). Bulgaria (ibid. Venezuela (ibid. § 279).. Democratic Kampuchea (ibid. Switzerland (ibid. §§ 362–363). South Africa (ibid.. Indonesia (ibid. §§ 125–126). §§ 311–312). § 377).g... Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (ibid. Viet Nam (ibid. § 327). Benin (ibid. §§ 427–428). § 286).. § 141). the statements of Afghanistan (ibid. Greece (ibid.. Interlocutory Appeal (ibid. §§ 354 and 356). § 166). Canada (ibid. [28] See. § 242). El Salvador (ibid.. § 398). German Democratic Republic (ibid. Thailand (ibid.... Ethiopia (ibid.. Armenia (ibid. Belgium (ibid. Israel (ibid.. § 154). Ecuador (ibid... § 153). §§ 213–215). § 253). Belarus (ibid. Peru (ibid.... §§ 298–299). §§ 228–229). Bahrain (ibid. § 433). § 349). Bangladesh (ibid. Turkey (ibid. Yemen (ibid... India (ibid. § 212). Austria (ibid.. § 335)... e.. § 238). Nepal (ibid. § 437).... § 184). § 231). § 124)... § 136). see also the practice of Belarus (ibid. § 300). § 406) and Draft resolution submitted at the UN Commission on Human Rights (ibid. § 239). Pakistan (ibid.... Mexico (ibid. [25] . Chile (ibid. § 329). § 314). Burkina Faso (ibid..... Guinea (ibid. Algeria (ibid. § 332).. § 132).. Malaysia (ibid. Cuba (ibid.. §§ 403. §§ 317 and 320). § 499).... Sri Lanka (ibid... § 283) and the reported practice of Jordan (ibid. § 438) and Zaire (ibid. Honduras (ibid. Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (ibid. § 407). § 441). §§ 178–181 and 183).. § 360). §§ 381 and 383)..United Kingdom. § 149).. §§ 303 and 305). § 385). Germany (ibid. Romania (ibid. § 233).. Islamic Republic of Iran (ibid. Syrian Arab Republic (ibid. Norway (ibid. [27] ICRC. §§ 240–241). § 218).. § 143).... § 376). § 268)... Albania (ibid... Burma (ibid. Finland (ibid. China (ibid. Japan (ibid. §§ 367–369 and 371). Czech Republic (ibid.. USSR (ibid.. §§ 190– 191 and 194). §§ 390–391 and 393). Tadić case. Nigeria (ibid. [26] ICTY... Haiti (ibid. § 512). § 386). France (ibid... Netherlands (ibid. Mongolia (ibid. § 234). Italy (ibid.. § 176). § 167). §§ 271–272 and 275). Statement by the FCO Spokesperson at a Press Conference ( ibid. Colombia (ibid. Yugoslavia (ibid. Belgium (ibid. Liechtenstein (ibid... § 316)... United Kingdom (ibid. Tunisia (ibid. Memorandum on Respect for International Humanitarian Law in Angola (ibid... Ukraine (ibid.. 405–406 and 412).. § 248). §§ 139–140). Australia (ibid. § 158).. Saudi Arabia (ibid. § 200). §§ 121–122). § 162).... Qatar (ibid.. § 169). Ghana (ibid.. Federal Republic of Germany (ibid. § 153).... United States ( ibid. §§ 206–207). §§ 172 and 174). § 277). Cameroon (ibid. § 346).... §§ 244 and 246). § 435). Brazil (ibid. Sweden (ibid.. §§ 221–222 and 224).