Multibarrel launcher. Credit: Robin Ballantyne
Multibarrel launcher. Credit: Robin Ballantyne
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Regulation of “wide area” riot control agent delivery mechanisms under the CWC

“Regulation of “wide area” riot control agent delivery mechanisms under the CWC” is part of an on-going project with Bradford Non-Lethal Weapons Research Project.

The use of riot control agents (RCAs) as a method of warfare is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The Convention, however, permits the employment of such chemicals for law enforcement including domestic riot control purposes, provided they are used in “types and quantities” consistent with such purposes.

Whilst CWC States Parties are prohibited from developing RCA munitions for use in armed conflict, they may manufacture, acquire and utilise delivery systems to disseminate appropriate types and quantities of RCAs for law enforcement. However, there is continuing ambiguity as to the type and specifications of those means of delivery that are prohibited under the Convention. This ambiguity has potentially dangerous consequences, allowing divergent interpretations, policy and practice amongst States Parties to emerge.

Of particular concern are the implications for regulation of large calibre munitions and delivery systems that can be utilised for dispersing significant amounts of RCA over wide areas and/or over extended distances. Inadequate control of such “wide area” means of delivery has potentially grave consequences

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