THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 23 May 2017 — The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü visited Rome from 22-23 May to attend and deliver a keynote address at a side event especially organised to mark the 20th anniversary of the OPCW at the First Scientific International Conference on CBRNe (SICC 2017). The gathering focused on safety and security issues in the chemical, biological, nuclear and explosive field and was hosted in collaboration by the University of Rome Tor Vergata and Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
Ambassador Üzümcü highlighted the verified destruction of 95 percent of the world’s stockpile of declared chemical weapons and stated, “Destruction of the remaining stockpiles continues, and will be completed in the coming five years”. He shared with the audience the new approaches followed and new capabilities acquired by the OPCW as the focus shifts away from destroying existing chemical weapons to preventing their re-emergence.
The Director-General called for a concrete and coordinated response by States Parties, scientists, academia, industry and international organisations especially because: “Our achievements are valuable, but we must not rest on our laurels. Despite our progress and the noble aims of the Convention, the people of the world are not yet free from the scourge of chemical weapons.”
Ambassador Üzümcü acknowledged the vital support of Italy to the OPCW’s work and thanked the Italian government and its agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for being at the forefront of the mission towards a chemical-weapons-free world. In praising Italy as a committed partner, he called attention to Italy’s important financial and operational contributions in support of the OPCW’s activities in Syria and Libya.
Following his keynote address, the Director-General participated in a round table discussion with experts from diplomacy, academia and industry, on the achievements and challenges facing the OPCW.
During his visit, the Director-General also met with H.E. Mr Benedetto Della Vedova, Undersecretary of State at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The Director-General briefed Mr Della Vedova on the latest developments relating to Syria and Libya. He also met with Mr Gianfranco Incarnato, Deputy General Director for Political Affairs and Principal Director for Security, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.
Since the ratification of the CWC in 1997, Italy has actively participated in the OPCW’s assistance and protection activities as well as the international cooperation programmes. Notably, Italy has been providing financial and in-kind contributions to support the ongoing operations in Syria and Libya. Currently, two Italian companies from chemical industry are participating in the 2017 Associates Programme.
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.