The Director-General is the representative of the OPCW’s Member States and the highest authority in the Technical Secretariat.
The Director-General is appointed by the Conference of the States Parties, on the recommendation of the Executive Council, for a term of four years and represents the Organisation. The Director-General 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. Ambassador Fernando Arias was appointed Director-General of the OPCW in December 2017 by the Conference of the States Parties at its 22nd Session. He began his four-year term of office on 25 July 2018. He was re-appointed for a second term by the 26th Session of the Conference of States Parties (25 July 2022 – 24 July 2026). Prior to his appointment as OPCW Director-General, he served as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Kingdom of Spain to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and as Permanent Representative to the OPCW from 2014-2018.
Ambassador Arias has been a career diplomat since 1979 and has extensive multilateral experience regarding weapons of mass destruction as well as bilateral experience in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, North America, and South America. In the past decade, he has represented Spain at international organisations such as the OPCW and the United Nations (UN). Additionally, he also served as the Vice-President of the OPCW’s Executive Council from 2017 to 2018. At the UN, he was Spain’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative from 2012 to 2013. While at the UN, he also served as Vice-President of the 68th Session of the General Assembly and Vice President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Previously, Ambassador Arias represented Spain as Deputy Chief of Mission in the People’s Republic of China. He was also Ambassador to Bulgaria, Ambassador to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (now North Macedonia) while in residence in Sofia, Bulgaria, Director General of the Protocol Department of the Presidency of the Spanish Government from 2000 to 2004, Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, and Ambassador to the Republic of Mali. In addition to various posts held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain, he was also Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassies of Spain in the Republic of Argentina, the United Mexican States, and the Republic of Romania. He began his diplomatic career as Secretary and Cultural Counsellor at the Embassy of Spain to the Netherlands.
Ambassador Arias 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 fluent English, French, and Spanish. He is married and has three children.