THE HAGUE, Netherlands—25 July 2018—Ambassador Fernando Arias of Spain takes office today as the new Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), becoming the fourth person to hold this office since the Organisation was established in 1997. He succeeds Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü of Turkey, who completed his second term as Director-General on 24 July 2018.
Ambassador Arias expressed, “I feel privileged to lead the OPCW whose work contributes to international peace and security. Our collective duty is to manage and develop the organisation to be effective and efficient. At the same time, we must never lose sight of the humanitarian side of our work.”
Ambassador Arias also remarked, “I consider my main obligations to safeguard the Chemical Weapons Convention and to protect the future of the Organisation”.
Ambassador Arias is a career diplomat with extensive multilateral experience at international organisations such as the United Nations and the OPCW where he has cultivated expertise regarding weapons of mass destruction. At the United Nations, he served as Spain’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative from 2012 to 2013 and was the Vice-President of the 68th Session of the General Assembly and Vice President of the ECOSOC.
He also has vast bilateral experience in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, North America and South America. Prior to becoming the OPCW Director-General, he served as the Kingdom of Spain’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of the Netherlands as well as Permanent Representative to the OPCW from 2014 to 2018.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Member States, oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
Over 96% 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 Peace Prize.