Spotlight 08/23:The Pursuit of Consensus. The Fifth Chemical Weapons Convention Review Conference

by Almuntaser Albalawi and Kristoffer Burck | To the Publication

The legal consequences of Review Conferences at the Biological Weapons Convention, which are largely analogous to the CWC, are deliberated here: .

2 For a comprehensive list of issues and how these were evaluated before the start of the Review Conference see:

3 See e.g.,

4 The destruction of the United States’ remaining declared chemical weapons was completed in early July 2023.,Destruction%20Pilot%20Plant%20in%20Kentucky.

5  Richard Guthrie, fourth report from the Fifth Review Conference for the Chemical Weapons Convention. CBW Events.

6 OPCW Webcast: Fifth Review Conference. Recorded afternoon session on 19 May 2023. Agenda Item Eleven – Any other business.

7 This was evident during the recent review conferences for the BWC and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which convened over three and four weeks, respectively, but ended without a consensus reached on the review of the treaties despite extensive negotiations.


9 There were additional cases where Russian state agents allegedly poisoned political opponents with substances potentially covered by the CWC, including the poisoning of Alexey Navalny. 

10 Examples: OPCW Compendium Russian Verbal Notes No.  5, 17, 23, 28, 29, 33, 34, 37, 38 (2022); For a list of further such allegations see: Burck, Kristoffer (2023): Muddying the Waters. Official Russian Disinformation on Chemical and Biological Weapons, PRIF Spotlight 3/2023, Frankfurt/M, DOI: 10.48809/prifspot2303.

11 Beyond the fact that Russia succeeded in blocking consensus on the final document, the general debate and the result of the EEG secret ballot, with 45 out of 111 valid votes in favor of Russia as a Vice-Chair of the group, show a positive sentiment or at least a neutral position towards Russia among some regional groups. Indeed, Russia was enthusiastic to highlight this sentiment in another move by delivering a joint concluding statement at the Review Conference on behalf of eleven state parties – framing the emergence of a new bloc of “like-minded countries” under the CWC. The statement was made on behalf of Belarus, Burundi, China, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Palestine, Syria, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. OPCW Webcast: 19 May 2023.