The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997, introduced a ban on all chemical weapons and stipulates their phased destruction. With 190 States parties, the Convention has now come close to reaching universal effect. In April 2013, the Third Review Conference of the Convention was held in The Hague. The Director General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, Ahmed Üzümcü, was re-elected for a further period in office at the Conference of States Parties in December 2013. On December 10, 2013, the OPCW was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war on August 21, 2013 is the biggest challenge for the CWC in its history. The Security Council of the United Nations decided with Resolution 2118 from September 27, 2013 that Syria is obliged to completely destroy its chemical weapons arsenal by June 30, 2014. By the end of 2013, Syria had acceded to the CWC, a Joint Mission by the United Nations and the OPCW in Syria had been established in order to support and verify Syria’s chemical disarmament, chemical weapons production facilities had been destroyed as well as a part of the chemical weapons, and a detailed plan for the transport of the larger part of Syria’s chemical weapons for destruction outside of the country had been adopted. At the end of 2013, agreements were concluded according to which Austria provides air transport capacities for the Joint Mission as well as an expert to support it at OPCW headquarters at The Hague.