Technical Secretariat of the OPCW

Introduction

The Technical Secretariat of the OPCW is charged with assisting the Conference of the States Parties (Conference) and the Executive Council (Council) in the performance of their functions. It is specifically mandated to carry out the "verification measures" provided for in the Chemical Weapons Convention (Convention), and is also required to carry out other functions entrusted to it under the Convention, as well as any functions delegated to it by the Conference and the Council.

The specific functions of the Technical Secretariat are listed in Article VIII, paragraphs 38 and 39. In addition to the normal responsibilities of the secretariat of an international organisation (e.g. preparing the programme and budget and reports, providing technical and administrative support to the other organs and serving as a channel of communication), the Secretariat is given particular responsibilities in line with the particular nature of the Convention. First and foremost, it is charged with carrying out the verification measures provided for in the Convention. It is also authorised, subject to Council approval, to negotiate with States Parties agreements relating to verification activities, to coordinate the establishment and maintenance of permanent stockpiles of emergency and humanitarian assistance provided by States Parties, and to undertake further duties with respect to the provision of assistance to States Parties.

The Technical Secretariat is comprised of the Director-General, who is its head and chief administrative officer, as well as of inspectors and such scientific, technical and other personnel as may be required. The OPCW Staff Regulations and Interim Staff Rules contain fundamental conditions of service and basic rights, duties and obligations of the Technical Secretariat.

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The Director-General

The Director-General is appointed by the Conference, upon the recommendation of the Council, for a term of four years. The term of office of a particular Director-General may be renewed for one additional term, but not thereafter. The current Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, was appointed by the Conference of the States Parties H.E. in December 2009 by the 14th Session of the Conference of the States Parties and began his four-year term of office on 25 July 2010.

The Director-General is responsible to the Conference and to the Council for the appointment of staff, and the organisation and functioning of the Secretariat. In the performance of his or her duties, the Director-General (like staff members) must not seek or receive instructions from any Government or from any other source external to the Organisation, and must refrain from any action that might reflect on his or her position as an officer responsible only to the Conference and the Council.

The Director-General is the official interface between the Secretariat and the Conference and the Council. He or she may attend sessions and meetings of the Conference and the Council ex officio, and may, with the approval of the presiding officer, make written or oral statements to any such session or meeting. The Director-General also oversees the administrative and technical support provided to the Conference and the Council. In this regard, the Director General prepares the provisional agenda for the sessions and meetings of the Conference and the Council, and ensures that each matter drawn to the attention of the Conference or the Council or proposed for inclusion in their agendas, is accompanied by appropriate documentation.

The Director-General has special responsibilities in relation to the implementation of the Convention's verification regime. He is charged with preparing periodic reports to the Council and the Conference on verification activities and on the status of implementation of the Convention as a whole. The Director-General is the originator of all inspection mandates, and has specific responsibilities in relation to challenge inspections and investigations of alleged use.

Other areas of particular responsibility for the Director-General include the OPCW's confidentiality regime, the handling of samples, and the designation of inspectors. The Director-General is also responsible for the organisation and functioning of the Scientific Advisory Board, which reviews scientific and technological developments relevant to the Convention.

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The Staff

The provisions of the CWC in relation to the staff of the Secretariat are typical of treaties establishing international organisations. The Director-General is responsible for the appointment of staff, and the organisation and functioning of the Secretariat. The paramount consideration in the employment of staff and in determining the conditions of service shall be "the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity". In addition, "[d]ue regard shall be paid to the importance of recruiting the staff on as wide a geographical basis as possible", and recruitment must be "guided by the principle that staff shall be kept to the minimum necessary for the proper discharge of the responsibilities of the Technical Secretariat" (Article VIII, paragraph 44). One particular aspect of the Convention, however, bears highlighting: it specifically provides that only citizens of States Parties may serve as Director-General or as other staff members of the OPCW.

The staff members of the Secretariat are assigned to one of nine divisions, each of which is headed by a director: Administration, External Relations, Inspectorate, International Cooperation and Assistance, Office of Internal Oversight, Office of the Legal Adviser, Office of Special Projects, Secretariat for the Policy-Making Organs, and Verification. All of these divisions are supervised by the Director-General, with the assistance of the Deputy Director-General. In addition, certain staff members are directly assigned to the Offices of the Director-General and of the Deputy Director-General. The OPCW Staff Regulations and Interim Staff Rules contain fundamental conditions of service and basic rights, duties and obligations of the Technical Secretariat.

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