THE HAGUE, Netherlands–19 November 2020–The Steering Committee of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) Programme to Strengthen Cooperation with Africa on the Chemical Weapons Convention (the Africa Programme) has reviewed and commended the Programme’s progress. An online review meeting on 16 November gathered over forty Committee members, observers, and OPCW Technical Secretariat staff led by the OPCW’s Director-General, H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, and Deputy Director-General, H.E. Ambassador Odette Melono.
The Committee Chairperson, Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Sudan to the OPCW, H.E. Ambassador Kamal Bashir Ahmed Mohamed Khair, welcomed participants and praised the high value of the Committee’s work. He described it as “a devoted channel for the provision of support, advice and assistance to the Technical Secretariat in the implementation of the Africa Programme”.
Director-General Arias stated: “It is greatly satisfying to see the Committee provide a dedicated forum of dialogue and coordination with the major stakeholders of our cooperation with Africa.” He reiterated the Secretariat’s “unwavering commitment and dedication to supporting the African States Parties and to addressing, through the Africa Programme, their needs and priorities in the context of the Convention”.
Deputy Director-General Melono moderated the Technical Secretariat’s presentations to the Committee. The Director of the International Cooperation and Assistance Division briefed the Committee on progress in implementing the 5th phase of the Africa Programme. The Secretariat also presented an analysis of the impact of its 2019 capacity building activities.
The Steering Committee commended the Technical Secretariat for advancing the Programme’s implementation despite the challenging global circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Committee also expressed appreciation of Member State donors and partners for their generous support to Africa within the Programme’s framework.
The Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the OPCW, H.E. Ambassador Joseph Manso, announced increased voluntary funding of $110,000. The contribution will assist in expanding capacity at African customs laboratories and increase preparedness of hospitals in the East African region to respond to chemical incidents.
The Steering Committee meeting was attended by the Permanent Representations and National Authorities of Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Kenya, Morocco, Rwanda, South Africa, and the Sudan. They were joined by the observers from the Czech Republic, Germany, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, and the European Union.
The Programme to Strengthen Cooperation with Africa on the Chemical Weapons Convention — known as the Africa Programme — focuses on the needs of OPCW Member States on that continent, including the promotion of peaceful uses of chemistry for a developed, safe and secure Africa.
The Committee’s membership for 2020 includes: Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and the Sudan. The Czech Republic, Germany, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, and the European Union have observer status. The next meeting of the Committee is scheduled for June 2021.
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 98% of all declared chemical weapon stockpiles have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.