THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 21 June 2017 — The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, delivered a keynote address at an event hosted by the US Department of State marking the 20th anniversary of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and met with senior officials during his visit to the United States from 19 to 20 June.
The Director-General met US National Security Advisor, Mr Herbert Raymond McMaster; US Deputy Secretary of State, Mr John Sullivan; and US Acting Assistant Secretary of State, Ms Anita E. Friedt. During these meetings, the Director-General shared information about the Organisation’s priority activities, including the investigation into the 4 April 2017 chemical weapons incident in Syria, and efforts to clarify elements of Syria’s chemical weapons declaration. They also discussed OPCW’s global role in preventing the use of chemical weapons by non-State actors. US officials reaffirmed their country’s resolute support of the goals of the CWC and the work of the OPCW.
The day-long forum on 20 June focused on the Chemical Weapons Convention 1997-2017: Progress, Challenges, and Reinforcing the Global Norm against Chemical Weapons. The Director-General took stock of achievements and lessons learned from the last 20 years of OPCW’s work, and highlighted challenges still facing the CWC. While referring to investigations of alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria by the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission and the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism, Ambassador Üzümcü concluded: “This is work of historic importance in our collective quest to uphold fundamental norms and values as an enlightened and humane civilisation and to bring to book those who choose to violate them. I am confident that the United States will continue with its tradition of strong support for the Organisation.”
Mr Herbert Raymond McMaster provided a keynote address and the forum featured discussions about strategies to meet on-going and future challenges by a number of senior officials and experts including Ms Izumi Nakamitsu, the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.
The United States of America became party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1997 and has been a key supporter of the CWC though both financial and in-kind contributions towards OPCW’s activities.
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.