* Corresponding Author
Journal of Environmental Protection and Ecology. 11, No 2, 499-505 (2010)
deficiencies are the main responsible factors for the increase of Greece’s vulnerability to
chemical and biological threat...
gases and bacteriological methods of warfare during a war conflict is part of customary
international law. The Protocol pr...
yet included among the priorities of the Greek State. In particular, its structure (constituted by
representatives of many...
 The establishment of a Corps of Experts in chemical and biological threats in each
administrative area (department or re...
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International treaties concerning Chemical and Biological agents. Their implementation in Greece.


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Journal of Environmental Protection and Ecology. 11, No 2, 499-505 (2010)

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International treaties concerning Chemical and Biological agents. Their implementation in Greece.

  1. 1. * Corresponding Author Journal of Environmental Protection and Ecology. 11, No 2, 499-505 (2010) INTERNATIONAL TREATIES CONCERNING CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL AGENTS. THEIR IMPLEMENTATION IN GREECE. Eleni Bergele1 , Michail Chalaris2* 1 Ministry of Interior/Department of Attiki, 14 Platonos st, 15351 Pallini, Tel:+302103511511, E-mail: eleni_bergele@yahoo.gr 2 Hellenic Fire Corps Headquarters/ Direction Health and Safety, 31 Piraeus Str, 10553 Athens, Tel.: +302105287572, Fax.: +302105287422, Email: mchalaris@chem.uoa.gr ABSTRACT The wide use of chemical and biological weapons during the World War I urged the international community to launch negotiations on international conventions concerning the prohibition of chemical and biological weapons use, that is, the Geneva Protocol (signed in 1925), the Convention on the prohibition of biological weapons (in 1972) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (in 1993). Undoubtedly, these three conventions have played a key role to the prevention of using such substances in terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, their failure to assure efficient verification methods of implementation, being a great preoccupation of member states, requires innovative improvement strategies. Greece, being a member state to all three treaties, is accused to be reluctant to implement fully the treaties, due to the lack of interest concerning the chemical and biological threat, disregarding its vulnerable geographic situation. Hence, a clear institutional framework and the empowerment of verification and control mechanisms are considered to be indispensable. KEY WORDS: Chemical, Biological, Weapons, Convention, Greece 1. AIMS: The deliberate use of chemical and biological agents to cause harm to life and health of populations as well as to the environment and infrastructure, is considered to be among the most dangerous threats of the contemporary world. The small but respectable number of incidents of chemical and biological weapons deliberate use, which have occurred till today increases the global concern about terrorist attack risks with deplorable effects. [2,3,7,8]. The purpose of the paper is to present the international conventions about the prohibition of chemical and biological weapons, because, first and foremost, it is necessary to understand the conditions of the development of these new threats for life, health and environment. Hence, this paper attempts to make a comprehensive approach to the application of these international conventions in Greece. Our objective is to illustrate the significant role of the application of chemical and biological weapons conventions in the organization of an appropriate response system in Greece. In addition, our objective is to demonstrate the possibility of participation, decision making and cooperation among different actors, such as the Central Government, Local Authorities and citizens concerning the planning, prevention, preparation, public information, management and mitigation of such hazards. Moreover, in the same way, this paper displays the problems of the international conventions application in Greece and highlights the institutional, organizational, practical and educational deficiencies observed in the case of Greece. Those
  2. 2. deficiencies are the main responsible factors for the increase of Greece’s vulnerability to chemical and biological threats. The contemporary unpredictable and complicated world is characterized by the emergence of new threats, such as the expanded network of chemical and biological weapons and the constant threat of creation of relations between those networks and terrorist groups, therefore, the Greek state must take all the appropriate measures, that the international conventions signed and ratified by the Greek state oblige to take as well as encourage the participation and cooperation among multiple actors directly concerned by prevention and management of chemical or biological incidents, such as the local government and citizens [10,11,13,14]. This paper includes the following units: Methodology, presentation of international conventions, their application by the Greek state and some conclusions. 2. BACKGROUND: The first approach of the subject of this paper was based on the research and study of the international conventions, the examination of general bibliography and, as far as for specialized arthrography, the use of Internet sources and scientific journals was essential. Subsequently, the second part of research concerned interviews with experts. More particularly: 2.1 The use of Greek, English and French bibliography and arthrography on international relations, law of disarmament, law of armed conflicts, international public law and constitutional law. Moreover, the wide use of Internet sources –for the most part, the site of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons- was indispensable, in order to acquire updated information. 2.2 Organization of meetings and interviews with experts by using specialized question sheets. It was expected that the information acquisition on the subject of this paper would be inevitably limited. In a lot of cases, because of the great number of confidential information, more particularly, facts that concern national security. The research focused initially on national entities in charge of the conventions application in Greece, in particular, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where there has been communication with experts of the Department in charge. Subsequently, experts coming from research institutes and, particularly, the General Chemical State Laboratory, the Hellenic Centre for infectious diseases control were interviewed so that specialized information could be acquired. In addition, the communication with all the concerned entities, such as the Ministry of Interior, the Hellenic Police, the Fire Service, the Ministry of Health, the General Secretariat for Civil Protection, the Ministry of National Defense, was of great importance. The interview with the General Secretary of the National Authority of Chemical Weapons and member of the Confidentiality Commission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was of particular value, because of his long experience in both national and international dimension of chemical weapons prohibition. 3. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION 3.1 International Treaties for the prohibition of chemical and biological weapons 3.1.1. The Geneva Protocol (“Protocol for the prohibition of the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of bacteriological methods of warfare”), signed in 1925, is the first international Protocol to prohibit the use of chemical and biological weapons. The massive participation of states could justify the position that the prohibitions within the text should be comprised in customary international law. This position was, however, doubted by the opposite view that the reservations taken by a considerable number of states limited significantly the scope of its application. Therefore, it should be stated that, undoubtedly, nowadays, the prohibition of the first use of asphyxiating, poisonous or other
  3. 3. gases and bacteriological methods of warfare during a war conflict is part of customary international law. The Protocol prohibitions were generally respected by the states, with the only exceptions of Italy during the war against Ethiopia (1935-1936), and Japan, during the war against China (1937-1945). 3.1.2. The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) (Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction) is the first international convention to prohibit exclusively a specific category of weapons, that is the biological weapons. The prohibition of the use of those weapons is not explicitly mentioned in the text of the Convention. It is additional to the Geneva Protocol and it only declares that the states’ obligations continue to be valid, included the prohibition of biological and toxin weapons use. Besides, the destruction of the existing weapons is also among the Convention’s provisions, not including feasible supervision and verification methods. Despite the efforts to fill the protocol deficiencies, even the approval of a generally accepted definition of bacteriological (biological) weapons has not been successful. In addition, the possibility of biological agents development for peace reasons does not give a satisfactory answer to the question whether the biological agents development is included in research programs or this is just an argument for those who o might possibly try to develop biological weapons. Hence, the lack of verification and control methods leaves the application of the Treaty to each state’s individual responsibility and determination to abide by the provisions of the Treaty and to cooperate with the other member states. The fact that the Biological Weapons Convention continues to impose the same obligations as the Geneva Protocol, does not answer to the question of what happens with the states which, even though they have not signed the Protocol, they have signed the Convention. 3.1.3 The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), is described as more complete that the other two conventions, because, except for its great influence, it has included provisions for tangible verification methods, has imposed concrete national measures and has established an International Organization: the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which has concrete tasks and the responsibility to observe and control the application by the member states. However, despite the provisions of the old chemical weapons destruction and despite the serious efforts for credible verification methods, there is no guarantee to detect via the available mechanisms all the possible violations of the Convention [6,7,9]. 3.2 The International Conventions application in Greece Greece [8,12,15,16] has already ratified all three Conventions, however, their application has serious problems, mainly because of the lack of realization of the threat and the limited interest about it. The Greek State was not only obliged to establish a National Authority but also to support it so that is could fulfil its role successfully. Since its establishment, in 2002, the National Authority for Chemical Weapons has encountered many problems; The inspections carried out are included in the hard core of the mission of the Convention; nevertheless, they are often described as sketchy and superficial. In reality, there are many obstacles - the most important being the confidentiality of information - to find out what really happens during the inspections of the Greek sites, which have declared that they possess the chemical agents described in the annex of the Convention. This indirect conclusion arises from the inactivity of the Greek state concerning the taking of legal measures and the administrative acts in order to apply properly the Convention. The non establishment of the National Corps of Inspectors, in spite of the provision of the law 2991/2002, is among the signs of the lack of interest of the Greek State. Furthermore, the way that the National Authority operates reveals that the protection against chemical threats is not
  4. 4. yet included among the priorities of the Greek State. In particular, its structure (constituted by representatives of many ministries and authorities in charge) gives evidence of the intention of the law to cover all the sectors concerned by a chemical incident. Nonetheless, there is no report concerning the Ministry of Interior and in particular, the General Secretariat for Civil Protection, which is the Authority in charge of the coordination of all the civil protection actors on both national and local level. In addition, the fact that multiple ministries and authorities are represented in the National Authority for the Chemical Weapons constitutes a significantly positive argument about the profound and complete treatment of the matter, nevertheless, it is worth denoting that the Authority is constituted by civil servants who occupy “ex officio” particular positions (mostly directors general of all the ministries and Authorities represented) and that the members of the Authority may change more often than usual, because of the mobility of civil servants. This could be characterized as a serious drawback, since the Greek State is unable to make the most of the accumulated knowledge and experience acquired by a member of the Authority who is obliged to leave its position as member because its service as the Director of a Ministry represented in the Authority has come to end. Moreover, the absence of a proper verification and control mechanism within the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention makes the situation more complicated and constitutes an obstacle for the actions taken by the Greek State in the prevention as well as in the management of a possible biological incident [9,14,17]. 4. CONCLUSIONS The responsibility of applying the conventions as well as the taking of suitable measures in order to strengthen the conventions belongs to the international community as a whole. However, some states, among which are mostly the USA, should play a key role, in order to find a balance between the necessity for transparency and the obligation for confidentiality of information concerning national security [10, 11]. Regarding the matter of application in Greece, the opportunity of the Greek state to succeed in creating mechanisms of prevention and management of chemical and biological threats, the following suggestions could be presented:  As far as the inspections of the industries referred in the CWC are concerned, the immediate establishment of the National Inspection Corps or the operation of the Service of Environment Inspectors is considered to be indispensable, so that the efficiency of the inspections could be assured.  The acknowledgment of the National Authority in charge of Chemical Weapons is regarded as vital. Thus, the participation of institutions and research centers, in it, is crucial, because of their accumulated special scientific knowledge and experience and their capacity to depose useful innovative propositions.  The participation of the General Secretariat for Civil Protection in the field of inspections is regarded as compulsory.  The multiplication of challenge inspections in industries suspected of possessing, producing or stockpiling chemical or biological agents should be among the priorities of the next review conferences of the CWC.  The adoption of new technologies by the Greek state, in order to coordinate all entities in charge of the prevention, management and mitigation of chemical incidents and the organization of intercommunal, interdepartmental exercises and simulations in order to come to terms with chemical and biological threat. The organization of seminars and discussions among all actors including the local communities with the view of strengthening the cooperation, encouraging the dialogue and exchanging ideas and good practices. This exchange could also be carried out through the practice of town- twinning.
  5. 5.  The establishment of a Corps of Experts in chemical and biological threats in each administrative area (department or region) would be particularly beneficial for the task of OPCW Inspectors as well as National Inspectors.  The promotion of cooperation among local authorities and central government is of great importance for their activation. According to experts [1,4,10,13], the chemical and biological threat continues to be contemporary, mostly through terrorist attacks. Besides, to be realistic, the conventions on arms control could never be able to solve the problem of terrorism, however, their contribution is significant. All factors that could contribute to the limitation of weapons of mass destruction must be encouraged and promoted. [2,3,5,6]. 5. REFERENCES: 1. P. Binder - O. Lepick: «Les armes biologiques», Que sais-je? Numéro :3599, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris (2002). 2. P. Boniface : «Les guerres de demain» Trad. :Iakovou G., Editions Papazisi (2004). 3. C.P. David - J.J. Roche: «Théories de la sécurité», Montchrestien, Paris (2002). 4. S. Faucheux - J. Νoel: «Les menaces globales sur l’environnement», Editions La Découverte, Paris (1990). 5. L. Bennett - J. Oliver: “International Organizations : Principles and problems”, Trad.: Salimba J.-Konstantinidis., Editions Gutenberg (2006). 6. G. Schmid: « Biological and chemical weapons: the cooperation within the EU concerning the readiness of chemical and biological attacks management» in the collective (tr.Dalis S.): Interatlantic relations: Cooperation or antagonism? Editions Papazisis (2004). 7. J. Tucker: «War of nerves, chemical warfare from World War I to Al-Qaeda», Anchor Books (2005). 8. B. Gikas– P. Liakouras: «The ratification of International Treaties in the contemporary democratic state; the view of national and international law», Ant.Sakoulas, Athens- Komotini (2005). 9. Ch. Gouvas: «Biological and Chemical War», Cactus Editions (2003). 10. M. Bossi: «Security questions in the new order», Papazisis (1999). 11. M. Bossi: «The evolution of international terrorism after the September 11th », in the collective: «New forms of terrorism», Papazisis (2003). 12. A. Bredimas: «International Organizations-University lectures, Legal framework, structure, functions», Volume II, Ant.Sakoulas, Athens-Komotini (1990). 13. Th. Dokos – F. Pierros: «The Mediterranean towards the 21st Century – The Greek position», Papazisis, p.226-252 (1996). 14. Th. Dokos– P. Tsakonas: «National Security Strategy, the construction of the Greek model of the 21st century», Athens, Papazisis (2005). 15. E. Roukounas: «International Law», Volume III, Ant.Sakoulas, Athens-Komotini (1983). 16. Ε. Roukounas: «International Law», Volume I, Ant.Sakoulas, Athens-Komotini (1997).