Myanmar Inks Global Arms Treaty
Image Credit: OPCW

Myanmar Inks Global Arms Treaty


Myanmar has ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and will become the 191st member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the global watchdog announced Thursday.

The move represents another step in the country’s ongoing reform process. Since a new quasi-civilian government took power in 2011 after five decades of military rule, the country has been reviewing Myanmar’s participation in international legal instruments including disarmament related conventions. In that vein, Myanmar signed the additional protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency in connection with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2013 and became a state party to the Biological Weapons Convention following ratification in December 2014.

The CWC prohibits chemical weapons and the OPCW is an intergovernmental organization that promotes and verifies adherence to the CWC. Though Myanmar was among the first countries to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993, ratification only took place this January, which then opened the way to the country becoming a state party to it. “It has been the domestic circumstances and capacity constraint which have prevented Myanmar for an earlier ratification,” the country’s foreign minister U Wanna Maung Lwin said in an address to the Executive Council of the OPCW Thursday.

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With Myanmar depositing its instrument of ratification of the Convention on July 8, the CWC will enter into force for the country after 30 days, during which it will officially become a member. After Myanmar’s membership, that would leave only five states remaining outside the Convention – Angola, Egypt, Israel, North Korea and South Sudan – as the OPCW continues to work towards universal adherence and a chemical weapon-free world.

While Myanmar will soon officially become a member, it will still have work ahead of it, including establishing proper legal frameworks, regulations and practices in line with the Convention. “Myanmar is committed to fulfilling its obligations under the Convention and looks forward to cooperating with other State Parties to bring about a world completely free of chemical weapons,” Wunna Maung Lwin said.

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