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The 16th Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention delivered a number of decisions that will position the OPCW to meet new challenges in the years ahead as the destruction of declared chemical weapons stockpiles nears completion.
The Conference took place from 28 November to 2 December 2011 in The Hague and was chaired by Ambassador Paul Arkwright of the United Kingdom. It was attended by representatives of 131 States Parties to the Convention, two Signatory States (Israel and Myanmar), 21 NGOs and chemical industry associations, and several international organisations. Among the key decisions taken by the Conference, inter alia:
Final extended deadline for destruction of declared chemical weapons
Three possessor States – Libya, the Russian Federation and the United States of America – had notified the OPCW that they will not meet the final extended deadline of 29 April 2012. The Conference decision (C-16/DEC.11) noted the statements by these countries underlining their unequivocal commitment to completing destruction of their stockpiles, and imposed additional measures to be taken by the possessor States. These measures include the preparation of detailed destruction plans with completion dates to be submitted to the Executive Council immediately after expiration of the deadline.
2012 Programme and Budget
For the seventh consecutive year, the Conference adopted a zero-based growth Programme and Budget for 2012, totalling 70.5 million Euros. Its decision (C-16/DEC/CRP.15) welcomed the continued implementation of result-based budgeting with key performance indicators, which was introduced by the Technical Secretariat in 2011, and underlined the need to further develop this process.
Chemical industrial inspections (Article VI)
The Conference decision on the 2012 Programme and Budget also welcomed new policy guidelines adopted by the Executive Council for determining the number of industrial inspections under Article VI of the Convention, which aim to prevent the re-emergence of chemical weapons. Under the guidelines, the annual number of industrial inspections will be gradually scaled up from 209 currently, to 241 in 2014, using a revised selection methodology that focuses on industrial facilities of most concern to the Convention.
International Cooperation (Article XI)
Of the 188 States Parties to the Convention, only seven have declared possession of chemical weapons stockpiles and fewer than half have chemical industries that are subject to inspection under Article VI of the Convention. The OPCW’s international cooperation programmes, which promote the peaceful uses of chemistry, provide an important benefit for such States Parties that enhances their engagement with the Organisation and sense of ownership. The Conference adopted a decision (C-16/DEC/CRP.14) on the components of an agreed framework for implementing Article XI, and requested the Executive Council to explore additional measures within the framework to ensure the full, effective and non-discriminatory implementation of all Article XI provisions.
Preserving the continuity of knowledge and expertise in the Technical Secretariat is of vital importance for ensuring the ability of the Organisation to maintain operational effectiveness. The Conference decided (C-16/DEC.9), as a one-time measure, to extend until 2016 the exceptional authority of the Director-General to grant contract extensions or renewals to staff members beyond the seven-year length of service stipulated by OPCW regulations. The exceptional authority applies to the operational requirements of verification and inspection of destruction-related activities. The Conference decision limits the total amount of service to 10 years.
Executive Council membership
The Conference elected 20 States Parties to the Council for 2-year terms starting12 May 2012 for the following elective places:
- Africa: Algeria, Libya, South Africa, Sudan
- Asia: Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Pakistan, Qatar
- Eastern Europe: Czech Republic, Russian Federation, Ukraine
- Latin America and the Caribbean: Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru
- Western Europe and Other States: Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Norway, Portugal
The new States Parties will join 21 other members of the Council that were elected in 2010.