Geneva Protocol

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.


Although it is popularly believed that the German army was the first to use gas it was in fact initially deployed by the French. In the first month of the war, August 1914, they fired tear-gas grenades (xylyl bromide) against the Germans. Chemical weapons were used 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

External links

* [ The text of the protocol]
* [ List of member states and reservations] by SIPRI
* [ Weapons of War: Poison Gas]

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