The Role of the Secretariat

Article X of the CWC stipulates that the Secretariat shall make information available and provide advice to States Parties concerning means of protection and the implementation of protection programmes. The Convention provides for specific ways for the Secretariat to carry out these duties. First, the Secretariat is required to establish and maintain a data bank containing freely available information concerning means of protection against chemical weapons. States Parties are encouraged to submit materials for inclusion in the data bank, which will continue to be expanded and updated, and will soon be made accessible via the Internet.

Second, the Secretariat is instructed, using the resources available to it, to provide expert advice and to assist States Parties, upon request, in identifying how to develop or improve the implementation of their national CW protection programmes. The Secretariat has solicited the cooperation of States Parties for this purpose as well, establishing a network of Secretariat staff and experts nominated by States Parties to provide, for limited periods of time, on-site guidance and suggestions regarding protection programmes and capabilities. States Parties have nominated more than 40 people to participate in this Protection Network. At the Network’s meetings conducted thus far, the participants discussed a wide range of ideas about how the Secretariat can better fulfil its advisory role, including suggestions for developing and diversifying the data bank, and ways to assist the strengthening of civil defence measures against chemical weapons with cooperation from other States Parties. In March 2004 the experts met in Vienna to provide expertise to the Secretariat on the development of a comprehensive concept on qualified experts. In order to be able to provide advice in a timely manner whenever requested, the Secretariat is also developing a modular information package containing data on several aspects of protection, and including contributions from Protection Network experts.

Another way in which the Secretariat dispenses advice is by conducting courses and workshops on protection and civil defence, often at the request of individual States Parties.