International Committee of the Red Cross

Toxic chemicals as weapons for law enforcement: a threat to life and international law?

Legal factsheet 30 September 2012

During the past ten years there has been much discussion and analysis of so called "incapacitating chemical agents" and of the use of these toxic chemicals as weapons for law enforcement. The ICRC has highlighted significant risks associated with these weapons, and has held two international expert meetings to explore the implications of their use.

This document is the ICRC's synthesis of the subject. It summarises the issue and describes the toxic chemicals in question, the relevant international law, the main risks, and the broad policy choices available to States. It is intended to inform and encourage national policy development, and to raise broader awareness of the ICRC's concerns

The document is available in two formats: a six-page overview and a two-page summary