On 21 April 2009 the Bahamas deposited its instrument of ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) with the Secretary General of the United Nations and after 30 days the Convention will enter into force for the country, making it the 188th State Party to the treaty. This reduces to seven the number of States that have not yet joined.*
The OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter, welcomed the decision as another significant step toward achieving universality of the Convention and strengthening global peace and security. “The ratification of the CWC by the Bahamas draws us ever closer to our goal of realizing a universal ban on chemical weapons, and we call upon those States that have not yet adhered to the Convention to do so without delay,” the Director-General said.
The CWC aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production or use of chemical weapons by States Parties, which in turn must take the steps necessary to enforce that prohibition within their jurisdiction. All States Parties are obliged to declare and destroy any stockpiles of chemical weapons they may hold and any facilities which produced them, as well as any chemical weapons they abandoned on the territory of other States Parties in the past.
All States Parties declare to the OPCW the extent of specific activities which could pose a risk to the object and purpose of the Convention. These activities are then subject to international verification and monitoring by the OPCW Secretariat, primarily through inspections. States Parties agree to abide by a verification regime for certain toxic chemicals and their precursors in order to ensure that such chemicals are only used for purposes not prohibited.
The Bahamas will now be eligible to benefit from the OPCW’s international cooperation and assistance programmes, which provide support in drafting and enacting the legislation necessary to implement the Convention at the national level. This legislation enables States Parties to detect, prosecute and punish any breach of the chemical weapons ban committed on their territory or by their nationals anywhere in the world.
In addition, the OPCW provides support in the practical implementation of the Convention’s stipulations – in particular, the establishment of an effective National Authority to facilitate annual declarations and OPCW inspections – as well as monitoring chemical transfers and maintaining relevant chemical transfer restrictions. Member States receive training and may draw upon the Organisation’s expertise to enhance their national civil protection in the event of a chemical weapons attack or the threat of such an attack.
* Angola, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, Somalia and Syria
PRESS RELEASE 4/2009