Paper Presentation

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

    Description of Activity

    Taboo or Not Taboo: Assessing the Strength of the Chemcial Weapons Taboo in the 21st Century

    The use of chemical weapons (CW) in Syria (2013-) and Salisbury (UK, 2018), indicates that CW may no longer be taboo. This is contradictory to the established prohibitive norm codified within the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). While research into the CW taboo has primarily focused on state actors, the current changing character of conflict, with a wider range of actors and scenarios than those addressed by the CWC, is crucially affecting the use of CW and the non-use norm. Do these recent incidents of use now mean that chemical weapons have become normalized? Referring to the origins of the taboo, this paper examines early efforts within the League of Nations to proscribe chemical weapons, comparing these to condemnation of CW during the Iran- Iraq war. The paper examines the norms established by these events and compares these to the use of CW within a 21st Century context, within Syria. Questioning the extent to which CW remain taboo. It is argued that, whilst the context of use of these weapons has altered, the underlying interests and values that shaped the norm have remained the same. Failure to uphold and maintain these interests and values risks unravelling the norm.
    Period7 Apr 2021
    Held atInternational Studies Association, United States, Connecticut
    Degree of RecognitionInternational


    • Chemical weapons
    • Deterrence
    • Security