Annual Chemical Weapons Convention Conference Concludes
The Eleventh Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) concluded in The Hague on 8 December 2006. The Conference is the principal decision-making organ of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
At its Eleventh Session, the States Parties approved requests for extensions of the final date for the destruction of the declared chemical weapons stockpiles, 29 April 2007. These requests were submitted by five of the six chemical weapons possessor States Parties, including the two major possessor States Parties, the Russian Federation and the United States of America, as well as India, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, and another State Party. These States Parties are engaged in destroying over 71,000 metric tons of chemical agents.
The CWC accords the Conference the authority to grant extensions of the 29 April 2007 destruction deadline, and stipulates that each State Party eliminate all of the chemical weapons declared to the OPCW by no later than 29 April 2012.
The Conference’s extension decisions specify the following deadlines for complete destruction: India - 28 April 2009; the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya - 31 December 2010; the Russian Federation – 29 April 2012; the United States - 29 April 2012; and another State Party - 31 December 2008.
Thus far, over 16% of the States Parties’ declared chemical weapons stockpile has been eliminated under international verification.
The Conference also approved a request by Albania to grant an extension of the intermediate destruction deadlines: 1% of Albania’s stockpile is to be destroyed by 15 January 2007, 20% by 31 January 2007, and 45% by 28 February 2007. Albania intends to complete the elimination of its declared stockpile by 29 April 2007.
The Conference welcomed the understanding of both the United States and the Russian Federation that each will host visits to their destruction facilities. These visits will be undertaken by the Executive Council Chairperson or a Vice-Chairperson, a representative from each of the other regional groups, one representative from the other States Parties hosting such visits, and the Director-General of the Technical Secretariat or his representative. Periodically, and starting no later than 2008, each relevant facility will be visited at least once during the extension period. The Conference agreed that these visits shall take place as a means of addressing questions or concerns about a State Party’s programme for fulfilling its obligations on chemical weapons destruction within its extended deadline.
The delegations also approved the OPCW’s programme and budget for 2007, which includes verification activities to monitor chemical weapons destruction and non-proliferation. The budget also includes major programmes to support States Parties in the complex task of national implementation, to foster international cooperation in the peaceful uses of chemistry, and to deliver assistance and protection against threatened or actual attacks with chemical weapons. The Conference approved an expenditure of EUR 75 million for 2007 (EUR 75.6 million in 2006), representing a nominal decrease in costs from 2006.
Delegations approved a programme of 200 inspections of relevant industrial facilities worldwide for 2007 (in 2006, 180 industry inspections were conducted), as well as a further 187 projected missions to verify the storage and elimination of chemical weapons and their production facilities. A number of missions will also be undertaken to old or abandoned chemical weapons sites.
Based upon the approved funding and inspection allocation, the OPCW projects to undertake the following inspections of industrial sites: Schedule 1 facilities, 11 inspections in 2007 (2006, 16 inspections); Schedule 2 facilities, 42 inspections in 2007 (2006, 46 inspections); Schedule 3 facilities, 29 inspections in 2007 (2006, 28 inspections); Other Chemical Production Facilities, 118 inspections (2006, 90 inspections).
In its effort to meet the Convention’s requirement that every State Party fully and effectively implement the treaty at the national level, the Conference agreed to sustain for a further year the follow-up decision on the implementation of Article VII of the CWC. That decision carried forward the Action Plan on enhancing compliance with Article VII of the Convention. Article VII requires each State Party to enact implementing legislation at the national level, to make any breach of the Convention a crime under the national penal law, and to inform the OPCW of the measures it has taken to implement the Convention. Under this Article, States Parties also pledge to establish a National Authority to liaise between the State Party and the OPCW, while cooperating in the areas of legal assistance, safety, and the environment.
The OPCW has also accorded the Convention’s universality the highest priority in order to establish a global ban on chemical weapons. Three years ago, the Conference set the target of reaching universality by its Twelfth Session, 10 years after the entry into force of the Convention. In its current Session, the Conference confirmed that it would review the implementation of the Action Plan on Universality and take any decision it deems necessary, in particular addressing the status of those States not Party whose non-adherence to the Convention is a cause for serious concern.
The Conference decided that it would continue considering options towards the establishment of an Office in Africa until its Twelfth Session in 2007.
During the Conference, H.E. Mr. Alfonso M. Dastis, Permanent Representative of Spain to the OPCW, was unanimously elected as the Chairman of the Eleventh Session of the Conference.
In addition, the Conference elected 21 new members of the 41-member OPCW Executive Council for a 2-year term starting on 12 May 2007. The new members are Cameroon, Ghana, Lesotho, the Sudan, and Tunisia for the African region; China, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, and Saudi Arabia for the Asian region; Bulgaria and the Czech Republic for Eastern Europe; Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico for Latin America and the Caribbean; France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America and for Western European and Other States.
In 2006, 122 of the 181 States Parties were represented by their delegations at the Eleventh Session. In addition, Israel, one of the 8 Signatory States that have signed but not yet ratified the CWC, attended the Conference as an observer. Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon, which have neither signed nor ratified the CWC, also attended as observers.
Representatives of 8 international organisations attended the Conference, including the United Nations, Council of the European Union, the League of Arab States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the International Organization for Migration. A further seven chemical industry associations and non-governmental organisations observed the Eleventh Session.
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