Membership and Functions

The Executive Council consists of 41 members who are elected by the Conference for a term of two years. Each State Party has the right, in accordance with the principle of rotation, to serve on the Council.

The Convention requires that, in order to ensure the Council's effectiveness, it is constituted with due regard to the principle of equitable geographical distribution, the importance of the chemical industry, and political and security interests.

Regional Makeup

Each regional group is represented on the Council in accordance with a detailed formula stipulated in the Convention as follows:

  • Africa - nine members;
  • Asia - nine members;
  • Eastern Europe - five members,
  • Latin America and the Caribbean - seven members;
  • Western Europe and other states - 10 members;
  • and by one further State Party, designated on a rotating basis, from Asia or Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Council is the executive organ of the Organisation and is responsible to the Conference. It is required to carry out all functions and powers entrusted to it by the Convention, as well as any functions delegated to it by the Conference. In so doing, the Council must act in conformity with the recommendations, decisions and guidelines of the Conference, and must ensure their proper and continuous implementation.

Executive Council Mandate

The Council's mandate is to promote the effective implementation of, and compliance with, the Convention. It is also required to supervise the activities of the Secretariat, to cooperate with the National Authority of each State Party, and to facilitate consultations with and cooperation among States Parties, at their request. A full listing of the many facets of the Council's work is found in Article VIII, paragraph 32.

Among the most important of the Council's functions are:

  • the taking of measures in cases of non-compliance by a State Party, including the submission of recommendations for action to be taken by the Conference;
  • the consideration and submission to the Conference of the draft OPCW programme and budget;
  • the draft report of the Organisation on the status of implementation of the Convention and the report of the Council on the performance of its activities;
  • and the making of a recommendation to the Conference on the appointment of the Director-General.

Executive Powers

The Council has considerable executive powers in relation to the implementation of the Convention. It may, without reference to the Conference:

  • conclude agreements with States Parties on behalf of the Organisation in connection with assistance and protection against chemical weapons.
  • approve agreements or arrangements relating to the implementation of verification activities negotiated by the Secretariat with States Parties, such as facility agreements.
  • subject to prior approval by the Conference, the Council may conclude agreements or arrangements with states and international organisations on behalf of the Organisation.

The Council plays a key role in the resolution of ambiguities and concerns regarding compliance. As described earlier and as discussed in more detail in the sections on challenge inspections and investigations of alleged use, the Council is the primary focal point designated by the Convention for resolving such concerns.

A special role is also assigned to the Council in relation to requests for assistance and protection against the use or threat of use of chemical weapons, in accordance with Article X of the Convention.

Finally, the Council is also assigned special powers in the event of a dispute between States Parties about the interpretation or application of the Convention.

Sessions and Meetings

The Council meets for regular sessions and meetings. The Council's practice has been to hold four to six regular sessions annually. Between regular sessions it may also hold special meetings as often as may be required for the fulfilment of its powers and functions.

Decision Making

In accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the Council adopted by the Conference at its First Session, the Council shall, with one exception, generally take decisions on matters of substance by a two-thirds majority vote, and a simple majority of all its members shall decide on questions of procedure. The one exception concerns the Executive Council's power to stop a challenge inspection from going forward. That decision can only be taken by a three-quarter majority of all the Executive Council members. In practice the Council has generally been guided by the principle of consensus and thus far has resorted to the vote on only one occasion, in relation to an administrative matter.

Subsidiary Bodies

The Financial Regulations of the OPCW authorise the Council to establish a body consisting of experts of recognised standing from States Parties to advise it on administrative and financial matters. The current subsidiary bodies are:

Another panel, the Advisory Panel on Future OPCW Priorities, completed its work in July 2011.


76th Session of the Executive Council:
8 - 11 July 2014

77th Session of the Executive Council:
7 - 10 October 2014

Nineteenth Session of the Conference of States Parties:
1 - 5 December 2014