Practice Relating to Rule 74. Chemical Weapons
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) states: “The 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibits the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous and other gases, and bacteriological methods of warfare.”
The manual further includes “using asphyxiating, poisonous and other gases” in a list of “war crimes recognised by the customary law of armed conflict”.
New Zealand’s Chemical Weapons Act (1996) provides:
(1) Every person commits an offence who intentionally or recklessly
(a) Develops, produces, otherwise acquires, stockpiles or retains chemical weapons; or
(b) Transfers directly or indirectly, chemical weapons to another person; or
(c) Uses chemical weapons; or
(d) Engages in any military preparations to use chemical weapons; or
(e) Assists, encourages, or induces, in any way any person to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under the Convention.
Under New Zealand’s International Crimes and ICC Act (2000), war crimes include the crime defined in Article 8(2)(b)(xviii) of the 1998 ICC Statute.
In 1980, during a debate in the UN General Assembly, New Zealand stated with respect to Resolution 35/144, which it had sponsored:
Of course, … no territorial limitations [for the investigations to be carried out by the UN Secretary-General into the alleged use of chemical weapons] are proposed. The Secretary-General is simply asked to look, with the assistance of qualified medical and technical experts, into all complaints of the alleged use of chemical weapons in military operations and to examine the evidence brought to his attention with a view to ascertaining the facts.
In 1987, during a debate in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, New Zealand condemned the use of chemical weapons against civilians.
In 1989, in reply to a note verbale of the UN Secretary-General on the subject of chemical weapons, New Zealand declared that it did not possess chemical weapons.
In its written statement submitted to the ICJ in the Nuclear Weapons case
in 1995, New Zealand stated, with reference to customary IHL: “It is prohibited to use asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases and all analogous materials.”
At the First Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997, New Zealand emphasized the importance of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention and stated its commitment and its determination to contribute actively to the realization of the Convention’s aims.