THE HAGUE, Netherlands —19 November 2018 — Over the next two weeks, Member States of Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will convene in The Hague for the Twenty-Third Session of the Conference of the States Parties (CSP-23), which opened today, followed by the Fourth Review Conference (RC-4), which begins on Wednesday, 21 November. The aim of these sessions is to establish the future direction of the OPCW for the next five years and to review the operations of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
This session of the Conference of the States Parties is chaired by H.E. Ambassador Yun-young Lee, of the Republic of Korea, who replaces the outgoing Chair, H.E. Ambassador Abdelouahab Bellouki of Morocco. The Fourth Review Conference will be chaired by H.E. Ambassador Agustín Vásquez Gómez of El Salvador.
The Director-General of the OPCW, H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, in his opening statement expressed: “The implementation of the Convention continues to advance on all fronts, and everybody agrees that this organisation is very much needed.”
The Director-General stressed that the Organisation must adapt to meet the current and future challenges of preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons. He reiterated that “The consistent support of States Parties has made the Convention one of the most effective and successful international treaties in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation”.
The speech from the OPCW’s Director-General encouraged Member States to strengthen global chemical security through collaboration on the decision on addressing the threat from chemical weapons use, adopted by the Special Session of the CSP in June.
Additionally, he highlighted activities to bolster both physical and cyber security of the OPCW, briefed States Parties on the progress of elimination of declared stockpiles of chemical weapons, and outlined progress on the upgrades to the OPCW Laboratory and Equipment Store into a new Centre for Chemistry and Technology.
Both Conferences will serve as platforms to discuss and take decisions on topics such as next year’s programme and budget, as well as further cooperation and outreach activities to strengthen the Chemical Weapons Convention and to universalise its underpinning norm.
The Review Conference has the particular goal of reviewing the last five years of OPCW’s activities and setting a new direction for the years ahead. Throughout the Conferences, side events arranged by States Parties and civil society will cover a wide array of topics related to the Convention and chemical warfare.
On Monday, 26 November, delegations and participants present at the Conferences will honour the victims of chemical weapons, and demonstrate their commitment to the norm against chemical weapons in all circumstance. The ceremony will include a wreath-laying and moments of reflection in the Organisation’s memorial garden.
Throughout CSP-23 and RC-4, the Director General will hold bilateral meetings with senior government officials and civil society representatives.
This year, 159 out of 193 Member States are participating in CSP-23. For RC-4, 152 Member States are participating, along with Israel as a Signatory State and South Sudan as a non-Signatory State. Representatives from international organisations, chemical industry and civil society will also attend the Review Conference and make statements.
The Conference of the States Parties meets annually to assess the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and to make key decisions regarding the future work of the Organisation. The Conference of the States Parties oversees the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, promotes the treaty’s objectives and reviews compliance with the treaty. The Conference is composed of representatives of all Member States of the OPCW, each of which has one vote.
The Review Conference, occurring every five years, is an opportunity for all States Parties to review the operations of the Chemical Weapons Convention and set a strategic direction for the OPCW in the next five years. States Parties offer recommendations for enhancing the OPCW’s work in the areas of verification, assistance and protection, international cooperation, capacity development, and outreach.
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.