Welcome Address by Rogelio Pfirter Director-General

Induction Workshop for Diplomatic Personnel Involved in the Work of the OPCW’s Policy-Making Organs and Subsidiary Bodies

Monday, 30 September 2002

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to this briefing session on the work of the OPCW.

This is the third such event we have organised for you specifically.

We recognise the need to continue to provide programmes of this type because, of course, there are many new faces in The Hague all the time.

And I am one of them!

Two months ago, the Conference of States Parties convened in a special session, and designated me Director-General of our Organisation.

In that short time, I have had to learn, to thoroughly analyse, the host of issues before us at the Technical Secretariat, to set our priorities right, to look into the outstanding issues and, if possible, envisage solutions to them.

All of us need access to the means and mechanisms to keep up-to-date. A transparent and open exchange of views will be fundamental in the re?creation of an atmosphere of confidence and cooperation between the Secretariat and Member States, and the
re-establishment of a sense of purpose within the Organisation.

The partnership between the Permanent Representations in The Hague and the OPCW provides the most direct link to enable this spirit of openness and cooperation to flourish.

The responsiveness, and the orderly flow of information, between the Organisation, your governments, and your National Authorities who are responsible for the implementation of the Convention, are key indicators of the effectiveness of the Convention regime.

Thereby, the positions of your governments are able to be taken into account in the formulation of relevant recommendations and decisions of the OPCW.

Thereby, the requirements of the Convention, and the decisions of the Member States are able to be translated into committed actions.

Membership in the CWC is in this sense unique, as it requires a continuous flow and interaction with the Technical Secretariat. And this is why supporting the implementation of the treaty at the national level remains at the top of my list of priorities, as nothing can be achieved without Member States carrying out their obligations efficiently and in a timely fashion.

The programme of this workshop is intended to introduce new diplomats with relatively little past exposure to the Convention to the workings of the OPCW – the verification process, the inspection process, and the operations of the policy-making organs.

At the same time, for those of you who are already more familiar with the Chemical Weapons Convention and its application, this will be balanced with elements designed to raise awareness of the status of current developments.

I will not take up your time at this stage in discussing these matters in detail.

However, it bears repeating in any introduction to the Chemical Weapons Convention that it is the first multilateral disarmament treaty of its kind – being not only universally available, but also non-discriminatory in its application, and subject to a stringent international verification regime.

Verification is indeed central to our Convention, and a pillar of the work we do for Member States.

The destruction of declared chemical weapons is an ongoing process.

The destruction of declared stockpiles is proceeding in all possessor States Parties, including the beginning of the new phase of destruction of category 1 CW in the Russian Federation. The other three possessors have already destroyed considerable quantities of declared stockpiles, ranging from 12 to more than 30 percent. This is progress.

In terms of inspections under Article VI, after a period of reduced activity due to financial constraints, we will now be carrying out the programme of industrial inspections from now until the end of the year, as originally planned.

The Convention is also an international agreement through which assistance to its Member States will be provided in case of use or threat of use of chemical weapons.

It also encourages international cooperation in the development of chemistry and chemical technology, and aims at fostering trade in chemicals, chemical manufacturing equipment and technology for peaceful purposes

On assistance and protection, we would like to define a concept and a strategy for the implementation of Article X. The OPCW is continuing with its preparation for real life scenarios, as shown by the recent exercise, ASSISTEX 1, held in Croatia.

In international cooperation, the Associate Programme is undoubtedly a success story. I intend to strengthen and reinforce this programme with the participation and backing of those Member States and chemical industry bodies prepared to provide us with the invaluable resources needed to keep it running.

The OPCW today has 145 States Parties, as well as another Contracting State Party (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, for whom the Convention will enter into force next month).

This represents three quarters of all States throughout the world. And those States represent more than 90 per cent of the world’s population, cover more than 92 per cent of its total land mass, and 98 per cent of global chemical industry.

However, gaps remain in our membership – in Africa and the Middle East, in North and South-East Asia, in Central America and the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands.

Universality of the Convention remains a major goal – that is, universal adherence, and universal implementation.

During my tenure, I will strive for an active approach to all the regions, particularly in the developing world, where there is progress to be made with regard to our Convention.

For example, I have started intensive consultations with the Permanent Representatives to the OPCW from Africa. This is also designed to build, in a meaningful way and with a real programme of action, upon the African Union’s recent, and first-ever, decision on the implementation and universality of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Moreover, through the active participation of delegations, we are actively improving the process of implementation of the Convention in areas such as declarations, notification of points of entry for inspection teams, submissions of diplomatic clearance numbers for unscheduled aircraft, and further information on national implementing legislation.

I will end here. In welcoming you once again to this Third Induction Workshop, I wish to express to you my confidence and awareness of the potential of your contributions to our goals. I sincerely hope that you will find this workshop a useful source of information and guidance during the first stages of your work with the OPCW.

I wish you a fruitful and successful workshop.

Thank you for your attention.