About the OPCW

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997. As of today the OPCW has 190 Member States, who are working together to achieve a world free from chemical weapons. They share the collective goal of preventing chemistry from ever again being used for warfare, thereby strengthening international security. 

To this end, the Convention contains four key provisions:

  1. destroying all existing chemical weapons under international verification by the OPCW;
  2. monitoring chemical industry to prevent new weapons from re-emerging;
  3. providing assistance and protection to States Parties against chemical threats; and
  4. fostering international cooperation to strengthen implementation of the Convention and promote the peaceful use of chemistry. 

As existing declared stockpiles are destroyed, the OPCW will continue to work hard to persuade the remaining handful of non-Member States to renounce chemical weapons and join the Convention.  At the same time, the OPCW must prevent re-emergence of a chemical weapons threat, whether from States or non-State actors.  Since the security environment does not remain static, the OPCW must be capable not only of dealing not only with today’s threats but must adapt to deal with new threats as they evolve or emerge in the future.  

The OPCW is given the mandate to achieve the object and purpose of the Convention, to ensure the implementation of its provisions - including those for international verification of compliance with it - and to provide a forum for consultation and cooperation among States Parties The Technical Secretariat is responsible for the day-to-day administration and implementation of the Convention, including inspections, while the Executive Council and the Conference of the States Parties are decision-making organs designed primarily to determine questions of policy and resolve matters arising between the States Parties on technical issues or on interpretations of the Convention. The chairs of the Executive Council and the Conference are appointed by each body's membership. The Technical Secretariat is headed by a Director-General, who is appointed by the Conference on the recommendation of the Council.

Member States
The OPCW Member States already represent about 98% of the global population and landmass, as well as 98% of the worldwide chemical industry. A state becomes a State Party, and thereby a member of the Organisation, by one of three means — ratification, accession or succession. Instruments of ratification, accession or succession must be deposited with the designated Depositary of the Convention, who is the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Non-Member States
List of Signatory States which have not yet ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, and a list of States that have neither signed nor acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The OPCW provides all States not Party to the CWC support in preparing to join the CWC and to effectively implement the global ban on chemical weapons.
Conference of the States Parties
The Conference of the States Parties is the main policy-making organ of the OPCW. Composed of all Member States, the Conference meets annually as well as in special session when necessary.
Executive Council
The Executive Council is comprised of the representatives of 41 Member States, who are elected by all other OPCW Member States to serve two-year terms
Technical Secretariat
The Technical Secretariat assists the Conference of States Parties and the Executive Council and has a staff of about 500 people. It carries out the daily work of implementing the Convention, including conducting inspections.
Subsidiary Bodies
The Convention also provides for the establishment of three subsidiary bodies to aid the three main organs of the OPCW in their work: the Scientific Advisory Board, the Advisory Body on Administrative and Financial Issues, and the Confidentiality Commission.
UN-OPCW relationship
Article VIII, paragraph 34(a), of the Convention mandates the Executive Council to conclude agreements or arrangements with States and international organisations on behalf of the OPCW, subject to prior approval by the Conference of the States Parties. The first such agreement, the Relationship Agreement between the United Nations and the OPCW, was concluded with the United Nations in 2000 and entered into force in 2001. The Relationship Agreement was approved by the OPCW Conference of the States Parties in decision C-VI/DEC.5 dated 17 May 2001 and by the United Nations General Assembly in resolution A/RES/55/283 dated 7 September 2001.
Headquarters agreement
Agreement between the OPCW and the Kingdom of the Netherlands concerning the headquarters of the OPCW
Information for vendors
The OPCW issues over 500 purchase orders and contracts with a value of EUR 5 million for supply of goods and services every year. These orders are for delivery to OPCW’s Headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands and its Laboratory at Rijswijk, Netherlands. Headquarters deliveries consist of computer and office equipment and supplies; specialized equipment for the organisation’s operations; and scientific equipment for use at the Organisation’s Laboratory. Procurement Notices can be accessed at the OPCW Bidboard, which lists procurement notices for supply to OPCW.

OPCW at a glance

Established: 1997
Headquarters: The Hague, Netherlands Read agreement
Membership: 190 States
Budget: EUR 75 million (2010)
Secretariat staff: 500
Director-General: Ahmet Üzümcü
Official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish

The OPCW is an independent, autonomous international organisation with a working relationship with the United Nations.