THE HAGUE, Netherlands— 15 January 2019 — H.E. Ambassador Odette Melono of Cameroon joined the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) yesterday as the as new Deputy Director-General. She is the fourth person to hold this office since the Organisation was established in 1997. She succeeds Ambassador Hamid Ali Rao of India.
The Director-General of the OPCW, H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, extended a warm welcome to the new Deputy Director-General and stated: “I look forward to working with Ambassador Melono during this crucial time for our Organisation and am confident that her insight, experience, and remarkable knowledge of chemical disarmament issues will help us to successfully navigate the challenges ahead.”
Ambassador Melono expressed: “I am honoured to join the OPCW as its many achievements have made the world a much safer and secure place. I look forward to working with States Parties, chemical industry, international organisations, civil society, as well as the OPCW staff to ensure our Organisation is fit for purpose as it acts as a vigorous guardian for the norm against chemical weapons.”
As Deputy Director-General, Ambassador Melono will provide advice and support to the Director-General in the implementation of his mandate. The OPCW Deputy Director-General line-manages the six divisions of the Technical Secretariat, chairs several administrative and financial committees and meetings, and helps manage the OPCW’s verification regime.
Ambassador Melono is a career diplomat and foreign policy expert. Prior to joining the OPCW Technical Secretariat, she served as the Ambassador of the Republic of Cameroon to the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Permanent Representative of Cameroon to the OPCW, from 2008 to 2018. She also chaired the OPCW Executive Council from May 2016 to May 2017. Before her appointment as Ambassador to the Netherlands, Ambassador Melono served at the Presidency of the Republic of Cameroon since 1995.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Members, 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.