THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 18 October 2017 — The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, was received by the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, and delivered the opening address at a symposium marking the 20th anniversary of the OPCW at La Maison de la Chimie in Paris, France on 17 October.
The Director-General expressed his gratitude for the steadfast commitment demonstrated by France to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the OPCW for over two decades in his meeting with Minister Le Drian. The Director-General briefed the Minister on OPCW’s activities concerning the Syrian Arab Republic. During the meeting the threat of use of chemical weapons by terrorists was also addressed. Minister Le Drian expressed France’s strong and sustained support for the work of the OPCW.
Ambassador Üzümcü delivered the opening statement at the symposium titled, “Preventing the Misappropriation of Chemical Products or Facilities”, organised to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the founding of the OPCW. He described the CWC as “a unique accord that became a cornerstone of the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime” because it is the only “multilateral instrument that bans an entire class of weapon of mass destruction under strict and effective verification”. He underscored that with the disarmament phase of the Convention almost complete, the CWC “cannot stand still”. The Convention must keep pace with the evolving security environment and scientific and technological developments. “Flexibility, planning, and cooperation will be crucial factors in this respect,” stated the Director-General.
Deputy Senior Defence and Security Official, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Mr Christian Dufour, delivered introductory remarks for the symposium, while the Permanent Representative of France to the OPCW, H.E. Ambassador Phillipe Lalliot highlighted the role of France within the OPCW.
The symposium was the product of the collaboration among professional federations of chemical and textile industries, the French Ministry for Europe Foreign Affairs, the French Ministry of the Economy and its technical support, IRSN. The co-partners also produced an awareness booklet on preventing the misappropriation of chemical products or facilities.
During his visit to Paris, Ambassador Üzümcü further met with the Diplomatic Counsellor, Office of the President of the French Republic, Mr Phillipe Etienne; and Strategic Affairs Director, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr Nicolas Roche.
The signing ceremony for the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) was held in Paris in January 1993. France ratified the CWC in 1995 and has been an active supporter of the Convention and OPCW’s activities throughout the years.
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.
Over 96 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.