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Geneva Protocol

The Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, usually called the Geneva Protocol, is a treaty prohibiting the first use of chemical and biological weapons. It was signed at Geneva on June 17, 1925 and was entered into force on February 8, 1928.

It prohibits the use of chemical weapons and biological weapons, but has nothing to say about production, storage or transfer. Later treaties did cover these aspects -- the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention.

A number of countries submitted reservations when becoming parties to the Geneva Protocol declaring that they only regarded the non-use obligations as applying to other parties and that these obligations would cease to apply if the prohibited weapons were used against them.


The first modern use of chemical weapons was by Germany in Ypres, Belgium in 1915 by releasing chlorine gas. The Treaty of Versailles included some provisions that banned Germany from either manufacturing or importing chemical weapons. Similar treaties banned Austria, Bulgaria, and Hungary from chemical weapons.

At the end of World War I, the Allies wanted to reaffirm the Treaty of Versailles, and the United States introduced the Treaty of Washington. The United States Senate gave consent for ratification but it failed to enter into force. France objected to the submarine provisions of the treaty and thus the treaty failed.

At the 1925 Geneva Conference for the Supervision of the International Traffic in Arms the French suggested a protocol for non-use of poisonous gases. Poland suggested the addition of bacteriological weapons. It was signed on June 17th.

Chemical weapons prohibitions

Date Name Effect
1675 Strasbourg Agreement The first international agreement limiting the use of chemical weapons, in this case, poison bullets.
1874 Brussels Convention on the Law and Customs of War Prohibited the employment of poison or poisoned weapons, and the use of arms, projectiles or material to cause unnecessary suffering.
1899 1st Peace Conference at the Hague European Nations prohibited "the use of projectiles whose sole purpose is the release of asphyxiating or harmful gases"
1907 2nd Peace Conference at the Hague The Conference added the use of poisons or poisoned weapons.
1922 Treaty of Washington Failed because France objected to clauses relating to submarine warfare.
1925 Geneva Protocol Prohibited the use of "asphyxiating gas, or any other kind of gas, liquids, substances or similar materials"
1972 Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention No verification mechanism, negotiations for a protocol to make up this lack halted by USA in 2001
1993 Chemical Weapons Convention Signed Comprehensive bans on development, production, stockpiling and use of Chemical Weapons, with destruction timelines.
1997 Chemical Weapons Convention enters into force Inspections begin.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Geneva_Protocol". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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