OPCW Director-General Speaks at Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation Conference in London

28 May 2019

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 28 May 2019 — The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, addressed policy-makers and other chemical demilitarisation professionals from around the world during an international chemical weapons destruction conference in London, United Kingdom, on 23 May.

The International Chemical Weapons Demilitarisation Conference, an annual event organised by the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, takes stock of the progress in eliminating chemical weapons and helps foster co-operation through the exchange of information and ideas relating to safe disposal.

Speaking at the conference, the Director-General recounted the successes in the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, yet underlined that the OPCW is not “a historical chapter that closes with the elimination of the last of the declared chemical weapons” but its existence is imperative in the future.

“Today’s threats cannot be contained within politically defined geographical boundaries. Global challenges require global responses. The OPCW is fully capable of effectively dealing with the threat of chemical weapons. What we need is strong support from our States Parties,” stressed the Director-General.

After the conference, the Director-General was received by His Royal Highness The Duke of York at Buckingham Palace.

During his visit to the United Kingdom, the Director-General held also bilateral talks with Minister of State for Defence, the Rt Hon Earl Howe, who also is Deputy Leader of the House of Lords; as well as with the Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations, Lord Ahmed of Wimbledon at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The Director-General also met with the Director of the Defence and International Security Directorate, FCO, Ms Samantha Job, and other senior officials.

Background

Since 1998, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, an agency of the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom, has organised annual chemical weapons demilitarisation conferences to bring together international experts to discuss issues relating to the destruction of chemical weapons and to improve international co-operation.

The gathering provides the opportunity to showcase the global progress in chemical weapon destruction and enables delegates to develop their knowledge and understanding with a common goal of a safer, cleaner world.

This year’s event gathered representation from policy and decision-makers across international organisations, UK government, the armed forces, industry, academia, as well as research and development establishments worldwide.

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.

Ninety-seven percent 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.

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