Closing Statement by

Mr Rogelio Pfirter

Director-General, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

Basic Course for Personnel Involved in the National Implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention

The Hague, The Netherlands

From 26 August – 3 September 2002

Dear course participants,

Members of the OPCW Roster of Lecturers,


Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me a special pleasure to preside over the closure of the Basic Course for Personnel Involved in the National Implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. This is the first major project being completed by the Secretariat since my appointment as the Director-General of this Organisation over a month ago.

As I mentioned in my acceptance speech on 25 July of this year, I see support to national ability to comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention as one immediate task. Needless to say, the credibility of the CWC regime and the attainment of its objectives and purposes cannot be truly claimed unless and until all States Parties are in a position to properly comply with their treaty obligations. The implementation support programme of the Organisation aims exactly at that and needs to be conducted in a robust manner, in line with the expectations of our constituency – which are Member States of the OPCW.

My understanding is that these expectations are, in fact, quite high. I have been very pleased by the response to our invitation to this course. As a result, we will conduct another similar course later in the year for a second group of National Authority personnel. I am also heartened by the interest of all geographical groups in these training courses. It is my earnest desire that adequate funding for the Secretariat programmes designed to assist States Parties in their implementation tasks be secured. It ultimately is up to Member States to do this. I hope that there will be appropriate funds for this.

The Convention is not a self-executing document. Its implementation by States Parties requires the adoption of legislative and administrative measures, necessary to enable governments to enforce their international obligations at the national level. The enactment of implementing legislation empowering governments to collect the mandatory reporting data and to secure the implementation of the Convention is of particular importance. These were among the issues that you discussed extensively during the past few days.

These issues are complex in nature and require the necessary expertise and resources as well as effective communication and exchange of experiences.  It should be stressed in this regard that despite the fact that the majority of States Parties have neither chemical weapons nor a developed chemical industry, a substantial number of them are likely to be involved in the trade in chemicals regulated by the Convention.

This is why support to the implementation of the CWC at the national level is crucial to the effectiveness of the disarmament and non-proliferation regime that the Convention strives to accomplish. This is also why implementation support goes beyond the simple training of the national personnel responsible for CWC implementation and includes also services and programmes as well as networking possibilities, in support of States Parties’ obligations under the Convention. Courses such as this one, thematic workshops, the Annual Meetings of National Authorities, are some examples of our implementation support programmes. The positive results of the Regional Meetings of National Authorities held so far in Latin America and the Caribbean and in Eastern Europe have persuaded the Secretariat that similar endeavours should be supported in Africa and in Asia, thus becoming targets to be actively pursued in the near future. The basic objective of our programmes is therefore to assist States Parties in building their administrative and expert capacity to enforce the Convention and to eventually achieve self-sufficiency in this area. Sustained implementation support to States Parties is a permanent operational requirement of the Convention.

It should be added here that ensuring the credibility of the CWC regime through its even and reliable implementation at the national level has a direct bearing upon those States that remain outside the Convention’s fold and whom we would like to see signing in. Together with the security assurances and the potential for economic and technological development, offered by the CWC, implementation support contributes to achieving the objective of the Convention’s universality.

I hope that with these understandings in mind, we will be able to further forge the dialogue between national implementation bodies and the Secretariat, and between National Authorities themselves. In fact, practically all implementation support events organised by the Secretariat – be it training courses, meetings of National Authorities or specialised workshops – aim at achieving this objective of serving the practical needs of States Parties through dialogue, consultation, cooperation and networking. The OPCW Roster of Lecturers, consisting of mid-level staff responsible for specific implementation issues on the Secretariat side and available to you for consultation at any time, also serves this purpose. In just a couple more moments we will be able to welcome new members who have recently joined the Roster.

Before I am tempted to go into too lengthy a speech (and this already became a rather lengthy one) – after all I have been asked to close this Basic Course for National Authorities and not to open it – I think it would be appropriate, finally, to congratulate the graduates of this course and to express the hope that your personal acquaintance with this house - which for most of you may have just started due to your participation in this course – will grow into a stable and mutually advantageous relationship with the OPCW Secretariat which is here to serve your practical needs. You and us are on the same side, working for the successful implementation of the Convention.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me now declare this Basic Course for Personnel Involved in the National Implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention closed. I wish you a safe trip back home.

Thank you for your attention.