THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 1 June 2017 – National Authorities of OPCW Member States from Asia commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at their 15th Regional Meeting held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), from 16 to 18 May.
During the meeting, over 40 participants from 29 Asian States Parties pledged to foster robust cooperation practices that will further aid the effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The participants also used this opportunity to discuss national implementation achievements made over the past 20 years, shared experiences, best practices, and emerging challenges to the Convention.
The OPCW Director of the International Cooperation and Assistance Division, Mr Hamza Khelif, commended Asian States on their achievements regarding the implementation of the Convention – noting that over 75 per cent of States Parties from the Asian region have adopted CWC implementing legislation. As this region accounted for almost 60 per cent of the world’s chemical production market in 2016 and hosted more than 40 per cent of all OPCW inspections of Other Chemical Production Facilities, in the same year, Mr Khelif reminded attendees that the area “bears important responsibility for the peaceful uses of chemicals”.
The Director of the Executive Office at Committee for Goods and Materials Subjected to Import and Export Control of UAE, H.E. Mr Talal Mohammed Al Teneiji, stressed in his remarks the importance of regional cooperation to work towards a world free of chemical weapons.
During the anniversary panel discussion, experts from international organisations, chemical industry associations, and the OPCW Advisory Board on Education and Outreach highlighted the increasingly important role of CWC National Authorities in countering emerging threats, including those from non-State actors. Further emphasis was places on the importance of education and outreach as well as engagement with the chemical industry and relevant stakeholders.
Noting the global attention on Asia due to recent incidents of use of chemical weapons and chemical attacks in Syria, Iraq and in Malaysia, the participants reaffirmed the importance of achieving full universality for the Convention. They further stressed that prevention of re-emergence of chemical weapons must remain one of the dominant priorities for the Organisation.
The meeting was accompanied by the opening of an exhibition in commemoration of OPCW’s 20th anniversary, organised by the National Authority of the UAE. The exhibition was opened by UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the UAE, H.E. Dr Anwar Mohammed Qarqash, and Mr Khelif on behalf of the OPCW.
The regional meeting was attended by representatives from Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, the Cook Islands, Cyprus, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Yemen.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently and verifiably eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 – and 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.