THE HAGUE, Netherlands—18 July 2022—The Steering Committee of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) Programme to Strengthen Cooperation with Africa on the Chemical Weapons Convention (Africa Programme) held its fifth progress review meeting online on 24 June 2022.
In attendance were 43 participants, including Committee members, observers, the Director-General of the OPCW, Ambassador Fernando Arias, the Deputy Director-General, Odette Melono, and Technical Secretariat staff.
In his opening remarks, the OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Fernando Arias, emphasised the unwavering commitment of the OPCW’s Technical Secretariat to the needs of African Member States through the Africa Programme and highlighted that the OPCW has “stepped up the delivery of our training activities to meet needs and priorities of the African Member States.”
The Director-General also commended the progress achieved in the consultation process launched in March this year by the Technical Secretariat and African Member States in preparation for the Sixth Phase of the Programme (2023-2025).
The Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cameroon to the OPCW and Chairperson of the Steering Committee, H.E. Ambassador Madeleine Liguemoh Ondoua, expressed her satisfaction to see the Programme “continue promoting the collaboration between the OPCW Technical Secretariat and the African Member States, in the framework of the effective implementation of the Africa Programme”. Greeting the participants, Ambassador Ondoua extended a special welcomed to Canada as it joined the Committee as a new observer.
The OPCW Deputy Director-General, Odette Melono, moderated the Technical Secretariat’s briefing to the Committee that included a presentation by the Acting Director of the International Cooperation and Assistance Division and his team on the progress made in the implementation of the Programme since the Committee’s last meeting. During this period, the Technical Secretariat had delivered 33 capacity building activities, addressing the eight objectives of the Programme. These activities benefitted 673 participants from 38 African Member States. The Secretariat also briefed the Committee on developments in the preparations for the Sixth Phase of the Programme, including the results of the needs assessment survey conducted between March and April 2022. Noting the survey’s outcomes and the objectives it has identified for the next cycle of the Programme, the Committee expressed its satisfaction at the progress and expressed their support for the next steps of the consultations.
The Steering Committee and its observers commended the Director-General and Technical Secretariat on the progress achieved. The Committee also expressed gratitude to donors and partners for their support to the Programme.
The delegations of Algeria, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, and South Africa noted their appreciation of the implementation so far and highlighted the ongoing initiatives they support, as both partners and beneficiaries of the Programme. The delegations of Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom also underscored their support to the Programme and commitment to its continued success.
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 the continent, including the promotion of uses of chemistry for peaceful purposes to support a safe and secure Africa.
The Africa Programme is structured in three-year planning phases and has completed four phases since its inception. The Fifth Phase was launched in January 2020 and covers the period 2020-2022. The design of this phase is based on a needs assessment and inclusive consultations with African Member States.
The Committee’s membership for 2022 includes: Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa. Canada, Czechia, France, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union hold observer status.
The Africa Programme is funded through OPCW’s regular budget. In addition, it receives voluntary contributions of OPCW Member States.
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 99% 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.