THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 26 May 2017 — The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü met with senior UK officials and delivered the keynote address to the 20th International Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation Conference (CWD) on 25 May.
During his visit to London, the Director-General met with the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the Rt Hon Boris Johnson and met separately with the Minister of State for Defence, the Rt Hon Earl Howe. The Director-General shared his gratitude for the steadfast commitment demonstrated by the UK to the OPCW for over two decades. The Director-General briefed them on the FFM investigation of the 4 April incident in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria and preparations for its deployment to the site of the incident. The Ministers expressed the strong support of the UK for the work of OPCW.
In his address to the CWD he noted that this conference coincided with the 20th anniversary of the OPCW. He acknowledged the approach of the historic accomplishment of eliminating an entire category of declared weapons of mass destruction, and reflected that “The re-emergence of chemical weapons use, the mounting threat of chemical terrorism, and the evolution of science and technology are all shaping our future”. Ambassador Üzümcü stated, “It is clear that our organisation must continue to adapt to new threats, challenges and priorities”.
Ambassador Üzümcü spoke about the OPCW’s work in Syria as an example of the OPCW’s adaptability and the international community’s commitment to unity to ensuring the complete eradication of chemical weapons. He provided an update on OPCW-FFM’s activities in addressing the allegations of use of chemical weapons in Syria as well as on-going efforts regarding the completeness and accuracy of the Syrian Arab Republic’s declaration.
Organised by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, which is part of the UK Ministry of Defence, the International Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation Conference brings together an international and diverse group of specialists from the military, scientific and chemical industry fields to discuss efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Crisis Centre invited the Director-General to tour the Centre so he could learn first-hand about its mission, operations and staff. Established in 2012, the Crisis Centre currently has a dedicated staff of 26 personnel and can grow to accommodate 110 personnel during a crisis. The Crisis Centre is designed to manage two large scale events simultaneously using a centralised command structure and coordinating various governmental departments. It has been used for both natural disasters and terrorist incidents.
The United Kingdom ratified the CWC in 1997 and has been an active supporter of the Convention though both financial and in-kind contributions.
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 eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
To date, nearly 95 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.
- Keynote Speech by Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü: 20th International Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation Conference London, United Kingdom [PDF – 40 KB]
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