To Prevent Destruction of Humankind, Science and Diplomacy Must Work Together, Says OPCW Director-General

22 July 2016
Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

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

“At every stage along the long road to ridding the world of chemical weapons, scientists have been an indispensable partner of the OPCW”, said Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), during his speech at Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research Annual Retreat.

In his speech, held in Bad Nauheim, Germany, on 21 July 2016, the Director-General focused on the ethical use of science and the critical mission of scientists and diplomats to work hand in hand for peace and security.

“[T]he practice of science matters. It forms the very bedrock of our well-being and prosperity. But, tragically, it can also be misused, as the history of warfare has all too often shown”, said Ambassador Üzümcü. “It is for this reason – to prevent humankind from destroying itself – that scientists and diplomats have a special responsibility to work together”.

The Director General noted that nearly 93 per cent of declared weapons had been verifiably destroyed, and chemical weapons have been stigmatised and banned under international law. “Commitment by scientists to ensuring that science always serves the cause of peace and security has been crucial for underwriting these achievements”, he emphasised.

However, new challenges are appearing on the horizon. “The threat of terrorists making and using [chemical] weapons has become a stark reality, as we have seen in the Middle East. It does not take much to imagine foreign fighters returning from ISIS ranks and applying their newly acquired expertise in chemical weapons in their homelands in Europe”, warned Ambassador Üzümcü. In this regard, the Director-General emphasized the continued relevance of the OPCW to preventing both the re-emergence of chemical weapons, as well as misuse of toxic industrial chemicals.

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