OPCW Director-General Visits United States

22 March 2018
The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü,

The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü,

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 22 March 2018 — The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, met with the UN Secretary-General, Mr António Guterres, and briefed the United Nations (UN) Security Council about Syria during a visit to the United States, from 16- 21 March. He also met with Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms Izumi Nakamitsu.

In his address to the UN Security Council on 20 March in New York, the Director-General stated: The use of chemical weapons in Syria continues to defy comprehension and to challenge the international community. The most tangible and visible manifestation of the value of the CWC is the verification of destruction of nearly the entire global stockpile of chemical weapons. The use of chemical weapons today is therefore an outrage that must not be tolerated. It is an abomination and it threatens to unravel a singular achievement in the history of disarmament. 

Ambassador Üzümcü met with Mr Guterres and Ms Nakamitsu and briefed them on the Organisation’s efforts to prevent the use of chemical weapons. Both UN officials expressed strong and sustained support for the work of the OPCW.

The Director-General also met with the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations’ Office of Counter-Terrorism, Mr Vladimir Voronkov. During the meeting, Ambassador Üzümcü signed the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact.

On 17 March, the Director-General spoke at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans, where he highlighted the role of scientists in ensuring that chemistry is used solely for peaceful purposes. He said: “Scientists provide the backbone of multilateral disarmament efforts. Through your work, we are made aware of emerging trends, potential new threats and opportunities to overcome them. The role of scientists will only grow more important as we shift our focus from destroying chemical weapons to preventing their re-emergence.”

Ambassador Üzümcü also contributed to the National Meeting’s session on ethics in science, held on 20 March. The Director-General underlined that “there are those who would use chemicals to do harm. Scientists such as you can help meet this challenge by building professional links across international borders, raising awareness of the importance of ethics in scientific activities, and producing innovations which reduce the harmful potential of chemicals”.

During his visit to New Orleans, the Director-General also met with and Technology and Policy Integration Specialist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Dr Kabrena Rodda, to discuss OPCW’s partnership with chemical industry in promoting a culture of responsible conduct in the chemical sciences.

Background

The 255th American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting and Exposition is a five-day event held from 18-22 March at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. 

The United States ratified the CWC in 1997 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.

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