Syrian statements suggest and the UN in New York has confirmed that Syria has decided to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention. If that accession is confirmed, Syria becomes a contracting party of the CWC and, 30 days later, the 190th CWC State Party. What does this mean for the current efforts to bring the Syrian chemical weapons under international control and eliminate them?
First of all, the legal context will change. By acceding to the CWC, Syria (the government as well as the opposition) will have forgone the acquisition, possession and use of chemical weapons. It will be under a legal obligation to dismantle its CW programme, shut down and disable its CW production facilities, and destroy its stockpile. It also is under a requirement to criminalize any violation of CWC prohibitions with regard to legal and natural persons that come under its jurisdiction; that may not seem to matter right now but could well become important after the civil war, both with regard to any domestic legal steps as well as any action that the International Criminal Court may take.