chapter  5
17 Pages

More than just a taboo

The legacy of the chemical warfare prohibitions of the 1899 and 1907 Hague Conferences
WithM. Girard Dorsey

This chapter examines the circumstances surrounding the three main anti-chemical warfare treaties following the Hague agreements, namely the 1922 Washington Naval Conference, the 1925 Geneva Gas Protocol and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. It demonstrates that The Hague's ban on chemical warfare had a long-reaching impact on chemical-weapons control that went well beyond its failure to prevent the gas attacks of the First World War. In 1899, delegates debated whether gas was in fact inhumane or even a poison. Delegates discussed more specifically whether gas was poison, an old and already taboo weapon of war tainted with associations of being uncivilised. After the First World War, public and legal resistance to gas grew worldwide. Even after the war, Germany's 1915 introduction of gas warfare influenced other nations' perceptions of the nation's conduct and doubts about the power of legal gas prohibitions.