State Parties from Africa voiced their intent to redouble efforts to incorporate the Chemical Weapons Convention’s (CWC) provisions into their national legislations, during the Stakeholders Forum on the Adoption of National Implementing Legislation, held from 8-10 November in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Head of the Implementation Support Branch of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Mr Kesrat Sukasam, expressed his satisfaction with the positive outcome of the forum, saying that “States Parties from Africa are now ready for decisive actions to adopt the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention into their national legislation. This step is critical for the Convention’s effectiveness worldwide.”
Throughout the Forum, more than 45 representatives from 11 African Member States actively discussed relevant challenges as well as mitigation strategies in the legislative adoption process. States Parties that have already successfully adopted CWC-related laws offered first-hand knowledge and advice regarding the processes involved.
“It is not only possessor states which bear the responsibility of implementing the Convention,” underlined Mr Job Masima, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence and National Service of Tanzania. “The threat posed by chemical weapons’ proliferation affects all nations. We all have to take this danger seriously and ensure that all states possess legislation that allows full and effective implementation of the Convention”.
Relevant international and regional organisations contributed during the event information about the kinds of technical assistance they can offer. These presentations were made by East African Community, Southern African Development Community, United Nations 1540 Committee, United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, and the international NGO Parliamentarians for Global Action.
The Stakeholders Forum in Africa, funded by the European Union, represents a pilot event which was developed to complement the efforts of the OPCW’s Technical Secretariat in providing legislative support to all States Parties of the CWC. Considering the Forum’s success, similar events have been planned next year in other regions.
The Chemical Weapons Convention comprehensively prohibits the use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of chemical weapons. Any chemical used for warfare is considered a chemical weapon by the Convention.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 — with its 192 States Parties — it is the most successful disarmament treaty in existence, eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
To date, nearly 93 per cent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor states have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace.