Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare
The 30th of November marks the Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare, an annual commemoration to pay tribute to those who have suffered and perished as a result of chemical warfare, to ensure that future generations are free from the threat of chemical weapons, as well as to reaffirm the commitment of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to the permanent and global elimination of
the threat of chemical weapons, in order to promote “the goals of peace, security, and multilateralism."
The OPCW, as the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, has taken extensive strides in enhancing efforts to eradicate the use of chemical weapons and prevent their re-emergence by putting an end to the development, production and use of chemical weapons.
The use of toxic chemical weapons was veritably prevalent during World War I, with the first large attack taking place at Leper, Belgium, 1915. The catastrophic attack released more than 124,200 tonnes of chlorine and other toxic chemical agents, causing extreme suffering and resulting in painful deaths to more than 90,000 individuals due to the exposure. Tragically, millions were left to deal with permanent disfiguring or debilitating injuries.
Proving to be an insurmountable obstacle to achieving sustainable development and peace, this day provides the opportunity to spread awareness on the terrifying effects of the use of chemical weaponry and promote global cooperation to reinforce global chemical weapons non-proliferation norms.
The Geneva Institute for Human Rights, on this important day, would like to reaffirm its commitment to reinforcing international, legal and humanitarian norms and urges the international community to enforce the international ban on the use of chemical weapons.
Within that context, the Institute appeals to the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, experiencing turmoil and conflict, to abolish the norm of utilizing chemical weaponry that directly results in health, humanitarian and security threats to civilian populations.
Finally, the Institute stresses on the necessity in implementing the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (1993), intensifying efforts to achieve the permanent and total eradication of chemical weapons and enforcing severe penalties to hold those responsible to account, as it is not solely a legal agreement, rather a moral obligation to ensure human dignity.