THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 20 September 2017 — The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, met yesterday with one hundred students from World Class The Hague, and shared his thoughts on milestone accomplishments and the future course of the Organisation.
The World Class programme, an initiative of the Municipality of The Hague, offers a select group of students’ admission to special master classes and events. The participants meet with eminent international experts who reflect on various aspects of their work in the field of international relations, peace and justice.
After the welcome remarks by Advisor to the City of The Hague on International Affairs, Mr Willem Post, the Director-General delivered a lecture on “The OPCW at Twenty: Disarmament, Syria, the Nobel Prize and Beyond”.
Ambassador Üzümcü highlighted this year’s commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the founding of the OPCW, and described the CWC as “a landmark achievement for disarmament, codifying the existing norm against chemical weapons into an international legal framework”. Ambassador Üzümcü underlined that the role of the OPCW, “has not been merely to watch over a destruction process, but to reinforce the taboo against their use and to promote the peaceful application of chemistry”.
The Director-General identified OPCW’s mission in Syria as one of the on-going issues where the Organisation “continues to examine and shine a light on the perpetual violations of the CWC in Syria”.
According to the Director-General, another test for the OPCW is the threat of non-State actors developing and using chemical warfare agents. He cautioned, “The challenge of chemical terrorism will impact our ability to implement the CWC and will necessitate even greater vigilance, despite the declining risks from military arsenals”.
The students asked a number of questions about the current global security environment and the role of young people in countering some of the most pronounced threats.
The World Class initiative strengthens the links between The Municipality of The Hague–the City of Peace and Justice–and its students. Local universities select each year a group of outstanding students to participate in the programme.
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.