Riot Control and Incapacitating Chemical Agents Under the Chemical Weapons Convention


  1. Neill, D.A.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Centre for Operational Research and Analysis, Ottawa ON (CAN);Department of National Defence, Ottawa ONT (CAN) Assistant Deputy Minister (Policy)
In October 2002, Russian Special Forces employed an incapacitating chemical agent to rescue hundreds of hostages held by Chechen terrorists in the Dubrovka Theatre in Moscow. Since that time, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, and a plethora of academics and non-governmental organizations have attempted to address the ambiguity in the Convention governing the circumstances under which riot control and incapacitating chemical agents may legally be used. This report examines this question and concludes that riot control agents may be used domestically; that, subject to certain key constraints, riot control agents may be employed on operations abroad; that incapacitating chemical agents should only be used for law enforcement purposes within a state’s legal jurisdiction; that transparency in this area could be enhanced through voluntary declarations concerning incapacitating chemical agents; and that like-minded States Parties may consider it in their interest to develop and promulgate a shared understanding of what, in their view, constitutes legitimate versus illegitimate use of these agents.

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Arms Control;Chemical Weapons;Disarmament;Incapacitant;Incapacitating Chemical;Incapacitating Chemical Agent;Non-Lethal Weapon;Non-Proliferation;OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons);Toxic Chemicals;Riot control agents
Report Number
DRDC-CORA-TM-2007-22 — Technical Memorandum
Date of publication
01 Jun 2007
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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