Practice Relating to Rule 74. Chemical Weapons
Sweden’s Penal Code (1962), as amended in 1998, provides:
A person who:
1.develops, produces or by other means acquires, stores or holds chemical weapons or directly or indirectly transfers chemical weapons to another person,
2.uses chemical weapons,
3.participates in military preparations for the use of chemical weapons,
… shall be sentenced, if the act is not regarded as a war crime against international law, for unlawful handling of chemical weapons
[emphasis in original]
In 1968, during a debate in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, Sweden proposed that the UN begin a process leading to a total prohibition of the use, production and stockpiling of chemical weapons.
In 1969, during a debate in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly on the question of chemical and bacteriological (biological) weapons and on what was to become Resolution 2603 (XXIV), Sweden agreed that “there should be a total ban on the use of chemical and biological weapons”.
In 1970, during a debate in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, Sweden stated that: The rationale for a comprehensive ban on chemical weapons in international armed conflicts would seem to be equally valid in internal armed conflicts. At all events, there should be no hesitation in imposing a complete ban, in internal conflicts.”
In 1971, during a debate in the Fourth Committee of the UN General Assembly, Sweden stated that the use of chemical weapons was “contrary to the generally recognized rules of international law as embodied in the Geneva Protocol of 17 June 1925”.
In 1988, in a statement before the Fifteenth Special Session of the UN General Assembly, Sweden stated:
89. The large-scale use of chemical weapons against the city of Halabja was a flagrant violation of the 1925 Geneva [Gas] Protocol and of customary international law prohibiting the use of chemical weapons. Such attacks must be universally condemned.
90. … The early conclusion of a convention which bans the production, storing and use of all chemical weapons should now be a high priority. All States should commit themselves to adhere to this treaty, thus eliminating the growing threat from chemical weapons.
In 1989, Sweden 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”.
At the First Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997, Sweden 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.
The use of chemical weapons is forbidden according to international law. Sweden is actively working against the use of chemical weapons in international contexts, including that all countries … should join the Chemical Weapons Convention. … Sweden will continue to promote global adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention, monitor data on the use of chemical weapons in Burma and continue to observe … development[s] in Burma and work for sustainable peace.
Chlorine gas was first employed in the trenches on 22 April 1915, and sulfur mustard followed two years later, in July 1917. Sweden is appalled that, 100 years later, we have witnessed the use of both these substances in the horrific civil war in the Syrian Arab Republic, and allegedly also in Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorist criminals– long seen as a worst-case scenario– now appear a reality. And the Syrian regime is implicated in the same type of heinous acts as the terrorists, and in a larger number of incidents. Sweden welcomes the decision of the United Nations Security Council to establish a Joint Investigative Mechanism [JIM] that will seek to identify the perpetrators behind these inhumane and unlawful attacks, and decided last week to contribute SEK [Swedish Krona] 2 million to the United Nations trust fund for JIM.