THE HAGUE, Netherlands—15 May 2023—The Fifth Session of the Review Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (RC-5) opened today in The Hague, the Netherlands. The session is livestreamed here.
The Conference of the States Parties convenes in a special session called the Review Conference (RC) every five years to examine the Chemical Weapons Convention’s (CWC) operation. The RC evaluates the Convention’s implementation status and sets out priorities for the OPCW for the upcoming years. It provides strategic direction for the Organisation and ensures that it has adequate resources to deliver on all its core objectives, taking into account any relevant scientific and technological developments.
Some of the topics discussed during the weeklong Conference will be the role of the OPCW and the CWC in strengthening international peace and security, including preventing chemical weapons re-emergence; maintaining readiness to respond to use or threats of use of chemical weapons; science and technology developments relevant to the Convention’s implementation; promoting peaceful and authorised applications of chemistry and ensuring safe production and secure use of chemicals.
“The OPCW is on a firm path ahead, spurred by a 26-year legacy of successful implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. We take pride in this legacy with a sense of responsibility. It compels us to learn from the past to update our knowledge and skills, as the future is already here. At present we work in a global security context that is notably different from the one at the entry into force of the Convention in 1997,” said OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Fernando Arias, at the opening of the Conference. “Today, the ban against the use of chemical weapons is permanent and incontestable. And the Convention is nearly universal.”
“Over the past 26 years, the robust verification method of the Organisation has generated confidence in compliance with the Convention. It has set a gold standard among multilateral disarmament agreements. To maintain this high level, the tools for verification must evolve in line with advances in science and technology,” he added.
“In this sense, we developed the project for the construction of the Centre for Chemistry and Technology (CCT), which was inaugurated last Friday, 12 May 2023, in the presence of His Majesty King Willem Alexander of the Netherlands. The CCT will significantly enhance the operational and capacity building capabilities of the Organisation. At the Fourth Review Conference in November 2018, it was just an idea. Today, thanks to the generous contributions of 57 countries, the European Union, and other donors, we have a modern platform for facilitating our activities related to research, analysis, training, information exchange, and capacity building,” the Director-General emphasised.
“Every review conference presents new opportunities for reinforcing the global norm and provide strategic guidance to the Organisation with a long-term perspective,” he concluded.
RC-5 is being chaired by the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the OPCW, H.E. Mr Henk Cor van der Kwast. More than 800 representatives from OPCW Member States, civil society, chemical industry and academia are joining the weeklong review process. A number of side events are taking place on the margins of the Conference, focusing on topics related to the CWC.
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.