THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 24 April 2019 — The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, attended the Ceremony of the Last Post in Ieper, and visited the demilitarisation plant at Poelkapelle, Belgium, from 22-23 April.
In Ieper, the Director-General participated in the ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial on 22 April and paid his respects to the victims of chemical weapons attacks during the World War I as part of the Ceremony of the Last Post.
Standing under the arch of the Hall of Memory, the Director-General presented the words of the Exhortation, taken from Laurence Binyon’s poem “For the Fallen”, before laying a wreath on behalf of the Organisation, alongside the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Belgium to the OPCW, H.E. Ambassador Christian Lepage.
On 23 April, the Director-General visited the destruction installation in Poelkapelle where he received a comprehensive overview of the facility’s work in identifying and destroying of Old Chemical Weapons (OCWs) from the World War I.
Ieper is the location of the first large scale use of chemical weapons, which took place during World War I on 22 April 1915.
On the occasion of the Centennial Commemoration of the First Large-Scale Use of Chemical Weapons at Ieper in 2015, the OPCW Member States issued the Ieper Declaration restating their commitment to combat chemical weapons.
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.