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Pure Appl. Chem., 2008, Vol. 80, No. 8, pp. 1763-1772

The duality of chemistry: Chemistry for peaceful purposes versus chemical weapons

Ralf Trapp

Rte des Closets, 74270 Chessenaz, France

Abstract: In April 1997, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) entered into force, banning chemical weapons (CW) worldwide and requiring their destruction under international verification by 2007, a date that has since been extended to 2012. At the same time, the CWC aims to prevent the recurrence of CW, including their possible use by non-State actors such as terrorists. The CWC is an agreement between governments, but it also sets norms that apply, through national laws and ethical principles, to the individual scientist and engineer. Many chemists, however, have had little or no exposure during their training and professional life to the ethical norms and regulatory requirements of the CWC. At the same time, advances in the life sciences are creating enormous opportunities - with the potential of being quite beneficial to humankind but also prone to abuse. Education and awareness-raising about the norms and principles enshrined in the CWC are therefore becoming increasingly important. Through its activities in the field of chemistry education as well as its links to the chemical industry, IUPAC has responsibility, as well as capacity, to promote professional conduct that is in full compliance with the norms of the CWC.