THE HAGUE, Netherlands–5 November 2021–The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, on 2 November addressed policy makers and other chemical demilitarisation professionals from around the world during an online chemical weapons destruction conference organised by the United Kingdom’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.
The annual conference takes stock of the progress in eliminating chemical weapons and helps foster cooperation through the exchange of information and ideas relating to safe disposal.
Delivering a keynote speech at the conference, the Director-General highlighted some of the many achievements since the Chemical Weapons Convention entry into force in 1997. He expressed: “As we grow closer to achieving the goal of eliminating all declared chemical weapons stockpiles, the OPCW is aware that its task is unfinished.” He recalled a number of recent instances of chemical weapons use that “cast a light on a long-standing and a long-term goal of the OPCW – the prevention of the re-emergence of chemical weapons and their use.”
According to the Director-General, this goal is achievable: “Despite the challenges of the last decade, the continuing strength, relevance, and adaptability of the Chemical Weapons Convention is clear.”
The Director-General stressed the role of the new Centre for Chemistry and Technology, currently being constructed near the OPCW Headquarters, as “an essential tool in the efforts to face those challenges. It will be a recognised leader in research, analysis, training, and capacity building. It will play an important role in preserving and developing knowledge and skills related to chemical weapons, and in ensuring that the Organisation remains fit for purpose in the future.”
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 (except 2020) to bring together international experts to discuss issues relating to the destruction of chemical weapons and to improve international cooperation.
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.
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.