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This chapter outlines the roles that have been played by civil society, broadly defined, in combating the development, proliferation and use of chemical weapons. It begins with an outline of the scope and nature of civil society activities, using micro-case studies of past activities to illustrate the role played by civil society in monitoring and analysing the development and use of chemicals as weapons, including riot control agents. The chapter then proceeds to outline the role played by civil society in uncovering the activities of governments and also contributing to the assessment of science and technology of relevance to the regime. In the penultimate section, the chapter addresses the role of civil society in “whistle blowing” and forging so-called “track two” relations between scientists across national borders. In the concluding section, the chapter lays out mechanisms whereby civil society could more effectively engage in the prevention of chemical weapons, but also identifies some of the limitations of civil society engagement. The chapter demonstrates that civil society has had—and will continue to have—a significant role in combating the development, proliferation and use of chemical weapons. However, the extent to which organisations such as the OPCW will be willing and able to embrace greater civil society interaction as they shift from the destruction of known stockpiles, towards preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons, remains to be seen. Consequently, civil society actors will continue to face a number of institutional, political and resource-based limitations on the role it can play in this area.

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