THE HAGUE, Netherlands – 29 June – OPCW’s achievements and future challenges were discussed during a 20th anniversary event held ahead of the 18th Regional Meeting of National Authorities of the Organisation’s Member States from Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC), in Montego Bay, Jamaica from 13 to 15 June.
The event was opened by the Honourable Mr Homer Davis, Mayor of Montego Bay, who welcomed more than 40 participants from 20 countries.
Representative of the National Authority of St Lucia, Ms Ava Marius stated: “After 20 years of existence, the OPCW remains steadfast in its commitment to the promotion of peaceful uses of chemistry and builds on the approaches and partnerships nurtured over the years. The energy and dedication of the National Authorities staff is as vigorous as it was 20 years ago, and we look forward to our continued cooperation with the OPCW.”
The Chairperson of the OPCW Sub-working Group on Non State Actors, Ambassador Maria Teresa Infante, Permanent Representative of Chile to OPCW; Dr. Edith Valles, member of the OPCW Advisory Board on Education and Outreach, as well as senior experts from governments, international organisations and chemical industry associations agreed on the crucial role of National Authorities in countering emerging threats, particularly those posed by non-State actors. The participants also underlined the importance of education and outreach for raising awareness about the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the need to augment engagement with the chemical industry.
During the ensuing Regional Meeting, attendees presented their efforts towards the implementation of the Convention, shared their national experiences, discussed major challenges, work plans and objectives for the coming year.
Ms Sharon Rivera from the OPCW Technical Secretariat’s Implementation Support Branch highlighted: “Twenty-four out of 33 OPCW Member States from this region have adopted CWC implementing legislation covering all or some initial measures, and all have designated or established a National Authority.”
This year’s Regional Meeting was attended by representatives of Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia and Venezuela.
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.