Report on the CWC and Regulation of “Wide Area” Riot Control Agent Delivery Mechanisms

The University of Bradford Non-Lethal Weapons Research Project and the Omega Research Foundation have produced a report written by Michael Crowley entitled Drawing the Line: Regulation of “Wide Area” Riot Control Agent Delivery Mechanisms under the Chemical Weapons Convention (Apr. 2013).

The report notes (1) the CWC’s prohibition against use of riot control agents (RCAs) as a method of warfare and against the development of RCA munitions for use in armed conflict; and (2) the permissibility under the CWC of the use of RCAs for law enforcement purposes, including domestic riot control. However, the report identifies questions about the “regulation of large caliber munitions and delivery systems that can be utlised for dispersing significant amounts of RCA over wide areas and/or over extended distances[,]” specifically whether such wide-area RCA munitions and delivery systems qualify as appropriate for law enforcement use of RCAs under the CWC. It discusses potential problems with these wide-area mechanisms, including their use in armed conflict, proliferation to non-state actors, and use for law enforcement purposes.

The report recommends that the OPCW:

– Develop a process for determining prohibited means of RCA delivery;
– Develop a clarifactory document detailing prohibited RCA means of delivery;
– Strengthen existing RCA declaration and reporting measures, and explore the feasibility and utility of introducing appropriate monitoring and verification measures.


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