THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 6 September 2017 — The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, addressed the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva yesterday at the invitation of H.E Mr Julio Herraiz, the President of the CD and Permanent Representative of Spain, and to mark the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the establishment of the OPCW.
The Conference on Disarmament, organised under the auspices of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), is the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community dealing with an extensive range of disarmament issues. The text of the CWC was negotiated within the Conference on Disarmament.
In his statement to the CD, the Director-General highlighted the Organisation’s achievements over the past 20 years and the new security challenges facing the international community. He recounted the OPCW’s multiple accomplishments, including the verified destruction of 96 per cent of the world’s declared chemical weapon stockpiles. “The CWC can serve as an excellent example of what can be accomplished with political will by the international community,” he stated.
Warning against a misplaced sense of contentment, the Director-General pointed to “business that is unfinished and challenges that are serious”. He referred to the recent use of toxic chemicals as weapons, as well as sulfur mustard and sarin, in the Syrian Arab Republic, the “pervasive threat of terrorism” and the need to build potent assistance and protection measures against chemical weapons.
Ambassador Üzümcü pledged the Organisation’s renewed resolve to meet these grave challenges and characterised the international community’s sustained disarmament efforts as essential to humanity’s very survival: “An obvious lesson from history is that the illusion of power from weapons does not guarantee self-preservation. This is especially true in the age of weapons of mass destruction.”
During his visit, the Director-General met with the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, Mr Michael Møller and discussed the Organisation’s priority activities, including OPCW’s activities in the Syrian Arab Republic, and highlighted the continued relevance of the OPCW in an evolving security environment.
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.
Ninety-six 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.