The Director-General is the representative of the OPCW’s States Parties and the highest authority in the Technical Secretariat.
The Director-General is appointed by the members of the OPCW Executive Council for a term of four years and is responsible for ensuring the Secretariat fulfils its mandate in an efficient and cost-effective manner. He or she works to cultivate effective working relationships between the Secretariat and Member States, and promotes universal membership of the OPCW and Chemical Weapons Convention.
The Director-General reviews inspection reports, ensures the confidentiality of sensitive information provided by Member States, and ensures effective governance and leadership of the Secretariat.
H.E. Mr Fernando Arias was appointed Director-General of the OPCW in December 2017 by the Conference of the States Parties at its Twenty-Second Session and began his four-year term of office on 25 July 2018. Immediately prior to his appointment as OPCW Director-General, he served as the Kingdom of Spain’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of the Netherlands as well as Permanent Representative to the OPCW from 2014-2018.
Arias has been a career diplomat since 1979 and has extensive multilateral experience with issues of weapons of mass destruction as well as bilateral experience in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, North America and South America. During the past decade, he has represented Spain at international organisations such as the OPCW and the United Nations (UN). He served as the Vice-President of the OPCW’s Executive Council from 2017 to 2018. At the UN, he served as Spain’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative from 2012 to 2013. While at the UN, he was Vice-President of the 68th Session of the General Assembly and Vice President of the ECOSOC.
Previously, Arias represented Spain as Deputy Chief of Mission in the People’s Republic of China from 2009 to 2012); Ambassador to Bulgaria from 2004 to 2009; Ambassador to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia from 2004 to 2006 while in residence in Sofia, Bulgaria; Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania from 1998 to 2000; and Ambassador to the Republic of Mali from 1998 to 2000. In addition to various posts held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain, he also held posts at the Embassy of Spain in the Republic of Argentina, the United Mexican States, and the Republic of Romania. He began his diplomatic career with a posting to the Netherlands.
He was born in Madrid, Spain in 1952 and holds a degree in law from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid as well as a Certificate in International Studies from the Diplomatic School in Madrid, Spain.
He speaks English, French and Spanish fluently, is married and has three children.
Fernando Arias’ contributions have been celebrated with six decorations from Spain and eleven decorations from countries including Argentina, Bulgaria, Chile, Ecuador, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Mauritania, and the Netherlands.