Related Rule
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Practice Relating to Rule 74. Chemical Weapons
The UK Military Manual (1958) provides: “Asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and all analogous liquids, materials or devices are forbidden.” 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 111.
A footnote to this passage states that the use of chemical weapons in the First World War was illegal “in so far as it exposed combatants to unnecessary suffering”. 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 111, footnote 1(a).
The manual also provides: “In addition to the ‘grave breaches’ of the 1949 [Geneva] Conventions, … the following are examples of punishable violations of the laws of war, or war crimes: … using asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and all analogous liquids, materials or devices.” 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 626(r).
The UK LOAC Pamphlet (1981) states: “The following are prohibited in international armed conflict: … e. the first use of gas and chemical weapons.” 
United Kingdom, The Law of Armed Conflict, D/DAT/13/35/66, Army Code 71130 (Revised 1981), Ministry of Defence, prepared under the Direction of The Chief of the General Staff, 1981, Section 5, p. 20, § 1(e).
(emphasis in original)
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states:
6.8. Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, states party undertake never under any circumstances:
a. “To develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons, or transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons to anyone”;
b. “To use chemical weapons”;
c. “To engage in any military preparations to use chemical weapons”;
d. “To assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party” under the Convention.
6.8.1. The Convention contains, for the first time, a definition of chemical weapons as follows:
“‘chemical weapons’ means the following, together or separately:
(a) Toxic chemicals and their precursors, except where intended for purposes not prohibited under this Convention, as long as the types and quantities are consistent with such purposes;
(b) Munitions and devices, specifically designed to cause death or other harm through the toxic properties of those toxic chemicals specified in sub-paragraph (a), which would be released as a result of the employment of such munitions and devices;
(c) Any equipment specifically designed for use directly in connection with the employment of munitions and devices specified in sub-paragraph (b).”
6.8.2. States party also undertake not to use riot control agents as a method of warfare.
6.8.3. Permitted uses of chemicals include industrial, agricultural, research, medical, pharmaceutical or other peaceful purposes; purposes directly related to protection against toxic chemicals and chemical weapons; military purposes not connected with the use of chemical weapons and not dependent on the use of the toxic properties of chemicals as a method of warfare; and law enforcement, including domestic riot control purposes.
6.8.4. The Convention also requires states party to destroy existing chemical weapons and chemical weapons production facilities. It establishes an Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and contains very detailed provisions, outside the scope of this work, for verification, including short-notice challenge inspections. In the United Kingdom the responsible authority is the Department of Trade and Industry. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, §§ 6.8–6.8.4.
In its chapter on internal armed conflict, the manual prohibits the use of “chemical weapons, including riot control agents, as a method of warfare”. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 15.28.
The UK Chemical Weapons Act (1996) provides:
(1) No person shall-
(a) use a chemical weapon;
(b) develop or produce a chemical weapon;
(c) have a chemical weapon in his possession;
(d) participate in the transfer of a chemical weapon;
(e) engage in military preparations, or in preparations of a military nature, intending to use a chemical weapon. 
United Kingdom, Chemical Weapons Act, 1996, Section 2(1).
Under the UK ICC Act (2001), it is a punishable offence to commit a war crime as defined in Article 8(2)(b)(xviii) of the 1998 ICC Statute. 
United Kingdom, ICC Act, 2001, Sections 50(1) and 51(1) (England and Wales) and Section 58(1) (Northern Ireland).
In 1966, during a debate in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, the United Kingdom supported the principle that international law prohibits the use of chemical weapons as a result of the 1925 Geneva Gas Protocol. 
United Kingdom, Statement before the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, UN Doc. A/C.1/ SR.1454, 15 November 1966, p. 167.
At the CDDH, the United Kingdom voted against the Philippine amendment (see supra) because:
A significant number of the States party to the Geneva [Gas] Protocol of 1925 had entered a reservation thereto; for those States the Protocol contained no absolute prohibition on the use of the weapons mentioned in it, but rather a prohibition on the first use only. Nor was it convincing to state that the Geneva [Gas] Protocol of 1925 represented no more than the existing customary law of war; ever since the adoption of resolution XXVIII by the XXth International Conference of the Red Cross (Vienna 1965), States had been urged in United Nations resolutions to accede to that Protocol in accordance with its express terms. Such a situation was entirely inconsistent with the contention made in debate that the Geneva [Gas] Protocol of 1925 reflected existing customary international law. That contention could not be supported. 
United Kingdom, Statement at the CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.44, 30 May 1977, p. 282, § 17.
In 1977, during a debate in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, the United Kingdom supported a complete ban on chemical weapons. 
United Kingdom, Statement before the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, UN Doc. A/C.1/32/PV.23, 6 October 1977, p. 21.
In 1983, in reply to a question in the House of Lords on the subject of the use of chemical weapons in South-East Asia, the UK Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, stated: “The use of chemical weapons is a flagrant contradiction of the civilized standards reflected in the 1925 [Geneva Gas] Protocol.” 
United Kingdom, House of Lords, Reply by the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hansard, 7 June 1983, Vol. 431, col. 92.
In 1987, during a debate in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, the United Kingdom stated that it and its allies were committed to a global ban on chemical weapons. 
United Kingdom, Statement before the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, UN Doc. A/C.1/ 42/PV.5, 14 October 1987, p. 62.
At a press conference held on 30 March 1988, a spokesperson for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office stated that the Iraqi use of chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians in Halabja “represents a serious and grave violation of the 1925 Geneva [Gas] Protocol and international humanitarian law. The UK condemns unreservedly this and all other uses of chemical weapons.” 
United Kingdom, Statement by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Spokesperson at a Press Conference, 30 March 1988, reprinted in BYIL, Vol. 59, 1988, p. 579.
In 1989, the United Kingdom co-sponsored a draft resolution in the UN Commission on Human Rights which expressed “grave concern about reports of killing of unarmed Kurdish civilians, in particular by military attacks during 1988 using, inter alia, chemical weapons and causing mass exodus to neighbouring countries”. 
United Kingdom, Draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Iraq, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1989/L.82, 3 March 1989, § 2.
In 1990, during a debate in the UN Security Council on a peaceful and just post-Cold War world, the United Kingdom stated that, under paragraph 13 of Resolution 670 (1990), individuals were held responsible for grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and that “we should also hold personally responsible those involved in violations of the laws of armed conflict, including the prohibition against initiating the use of chemical … weapons contrary to the Geneva [Gas] Protocol of 1925, to which Iraq is a party”.  
United Kingdom, Statement before the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV.2963, 29 November 1990, § 78.
In 1991, during a debate in the House of Commons on the Gulf crisis, the UK Prime Minister stated:
Chemical weapons, already used by Saddam Hussein against his own people, have been deployed. Contrary to international agreements, Iraq has produced and threatened to use both chemical and biological weapons, the use of which would be wholly contrary to international agreements. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Statement by the Prime Minister, Hansard, 15 January 1991, Vol. 183, col. 735.
In 1991, in a report submitted to the UN Security Council on operations in the Gulf War, the United Kingdom stated: “The Iraqi Ambassador [to the United Kingdom] was also reminded of Iraq’s obligations under the 1925 Geneva [Gas] Protocol in respect of chemical … weapons. The United Kingdom would take the severest view of any use of these weapons by Iraq.” 
United Kingdom, Letter dated 21 January 1991 to the President of the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/22117, 21 January 1991, p. 1; see also Statement by Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson, 21 January 1991, reprinted in BYIL, Vol. 62, 1991, p. 680.
In 1991, during a debate in the House of Commons on the Gulf crisis, the UK Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, stated: “We have always recognised that Saddam Hussein possesses chemical weapons and judging from his track record, he may well use them. To do so would be a breach of the 1925 [Geneva Gas Protocol]. It would be a gross crime.” 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Statement by the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hansard, 22 February 1991, Vol. 186, col. 576.
In 1991, during a debate in the UN Security Council on the situation between Iraq and Kuwait, the United Kingdom stated with respect to Resolution 687 (1991):
The resolution contains tough provisions for the destruction of Iraqi chemical and biological weapons … It is surely right to do so. For Iraq alone in the region has not only developed many of these weapons, it has actually used them both against a neighbouring State and against its own population, and it has made the threat of their use part of the daily discourse of its diplomacy as it has attempted to bully and coerce its neighbours … But action against Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction must clearly not be the end of the affair, a one-off operation, and that is why the resolution so clearly situates this action within the wider framework of work towards a whole region free of weapons of mass destruction and, indeed, towards even wider actions – for example to outlaw chemical weapons worldwide. 
United Kingdom, Statement before the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV.2981, 3 April 1991, pp. 113–114.
In 1993, during a debate in the House of Commons, the UK Secretary of State for Defence stated:
We would view with the gravest concern any evidence revealed to the United Nations – which is studying the situation in southern Iraq – that might give it reason to believe that chemical weapons might have been used in that part of the country. Clearly, the use of such weapons is contrary to Iraq’s international obligations; moreover, it gives rise to a particular sense of abhorrence which is felt not only by all hon. Members but by the international community as a whole. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Statement by the Secretary of State for Defence, Hansard, 19 November 1993, Vol. 233, col. 181.
In 1998, in reply to a question in House of Commons about the United Kingdom’s position on chemical and biological weapons and nuclear weapons at a meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, the UK Prime Minister stated:
The UK delegation supported proposals to include within the jurisdiction of the ICC war crimes under existing customary international law. For that reason, the delegation supported the inclusion of the use of methods of warfare of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering; these included … chemical weapons as referred to in the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Reply by the Prime Minister, Hansard, 20 January 1998, Vol. 304, Written Answers, col. 477.
According to the Report on UK Practice, an IFOR restricted document (Legal Standard Operating Procedures) provides for “no use of chemical weapons – other than tightly controlled use in riot control situations”. 
Report on UK Practice, 1997, Chapter 3.4.
In 2003, in a written reply to a question in the House of Commons, the UK Minister of State for the Home Office wrote:
The Government are fully committed to meeting our obligations under the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, which was implemented under the Biological Weapons Act 1974. More recently, we took new powers to deal with noxious substances. Sections 54 and 55 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (as amended in Section 120 of the Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001) make it an offence to provide, receive or invite another to receive instruction or training in the making or use of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons. In addition, section 113 of the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001 makes it an offence to use any noxious substance or thing with the intention of causing serious harm to public or property, and section 114 creates an offence of hoaxing using alleged noxious substances. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has taken forward initiatives – including the Green Paper laid before the House in April 2002 – intended to strengthen international efforts, and mechanisms, to counter proliferation. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Written answer by the Minister of State, Home Office, Hansard, 5 February 2003, Vol. 399, Written Answers, cols. 320W–321W.
In 2003, in a written reply to a question in the House of Commons, the UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, wrote:
The Government’s policy towards the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) is to work towards their universal adoption and universal compliance with their obligations.
The United Kingdom abandoned its offensive chemical and biological weapons programmes in the 1950s. Subsequently we have played a leading role in the negotiations both of the BWC of 1975, for which we are a depositary government, and the CWC which entered into force in 1997. We are fully compliant with our obligations under both Conventions and continue to press for their full and effective implementation. To this end, both nationally and with our EU partners, we have conducted a series of demarches world-wide, with particular attention to regions of tension such as the Middle East.
The United Kingdom was instrumental in securing a successful outcome to the BWC Review Conference in November 2002, which saw agreement on a three year work programme of practical measures to deal with the BW threat. At the forthcoming CWC Review Conference (28 April–9 May 2003) the UK will be presenting a number of important technical and scientific papers. The strength of our political support and commitment to both Conventions, as well as the technical expertise we contribute, are second to none. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Written answer by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hansard, 24 February 2003, Vol. 400, Written Answers, col. 49W.
In 2003, in a written reply to a question in the House of Commons, the UK Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Hoon, stated:
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it his policy to withdraw British troops from military action where an ally uses (a) biological and (b) chemical weapons.
Mr. Hoon: Our NATO allies are State Parties to both the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) and have renounced the use of such weapons. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Written answer by the Secretary of State for Defence, Hansard, 3 March 2003, Vol. 400, Written Answers, col. 812W.
In 2003, in a written reply to a question in the House of Commons, the UK Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Hoon, stated:
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the compatibility of disabling nerve agents with international obligations governing chemical weapons.
Mr. Hoon: The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits the development, production and use of all toxic chemicals (both lethal and incapacitating) and their precursors, except where they are intended for purposes not prohibited under the Convention, as long as the type and quantities are consistent with such purposes. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Written answer by the Secretary of State for Defence, Hansard, 13 March 2003, Vol. 401, Written Answers, col. 382W.
In 2003, during a debate in the House of Commons, the UK Prime Minister replied to a question by a Member:
Mr. Duncan Smith: The House will have seen pictures confirming that Iraqi troops have been issued with chemical weapons protection equipment and will have read reports that they have access to chemical and biological weapons. Is it not essential that we make it clear to every Iraqi commander that the use of such weapons is a war crime, that obeying orders is no defence and that anyone guilty of such crimes will be prosecuted after the war?
The Prime Minister: Yes, that is important. We are making it clear to Iraqi commanders in the field that if they use chemical or biological weapons, they will be deservedly prosecuted with the utmost severity. There are increasing reports about the distribution of equipment to Iraqi forces. It is difficult to be sure of their accuracy, but we have obviously been prepared for such an eventuality from the outset. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Statement by the Prime Minister, Hansard, 26 March 2003, Vol. 402, Debates, col. 283.
In 2003, during a debate in the House of Commons, the UK Secretary of State for Defence stated:
As yet, we have not made significant finds of weapons of mass destruction, but as I have told the House before, we have made discoveries of extensive protective clothing issued to Iraqi forces, which we believe could have been issued only in preparation for their own use of chemical weapons. No coalition forces have such weapons and we would certainly never use them. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Statement by the Secretary of State for Defence, Hansard, 3 April 2003, Vol. 402, Debates, col. 1075.
In 2003, in a written reply to a question in the House of Commons, the UK Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Hoon, stated:
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether British troops in the Gulf are equipped with disabling nerve agents; and under what circumstances they can be used.
Mr. Hoon: No. As a State Party to the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, the United Kingdom has undertaken never to develop, produce or use chemical weapons. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Written answer by the Secretary of State for Defence, Hansard, 28 April 2003, Vol. 404, Written Answers, col. 48W.
In 2003, in a Written Ministerial Statement in the House of Commons, the UK Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Ministry of Defence, wrote:
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s chemical protection programme is designed to protect against the use of chemical weapons. Such a programme is permitted by the Chemical Weapons Convention, with which the UK is fully compliant. Under the terms of the Convention, we are required to provide information annually to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). In accordance with the Government’s commitment to openness, I am placing in the Library of the House a copy of the summary that has been provided to the Organisation outlining the UK’s chemical protection programme for 2002. To increase transparency, the format of this year’s summary has been revised and for the first time information on civil protection is included. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Written ministerial statement by the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Ministry of Defence, Hansard, 29 April 2003, Vol. 404, Written Ministerial Statements, col. 12WS.
In 2003, in a written answer to a question concerning the use of non-lethal chemical agents by UK forces, the UK Minister of State for Defence stated:
The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits the development, production and use of all toxic chemicals and their precursors, except where they are intended for purposes not prohibited under the Convention, as long as the type and quantities are consistent with such purposes. “Purposes not prohibited” includes protective purposes related to protection against chemical weapons, as well as “law enforcement including domestic riot control purposes”. United Kingdom armed forces comply with the UK’s obligations under international law. We therefore would only carry, and would only use, non-lethal chemical agents for protective purposes related to protection against chemical weapons and for “law enforcement including domestic riot control purposes”. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Written answer by the Minister of State for Defence, Hansard, 20 November 2003, Vol. 413, Written Answers, col. 1271W.