Hague Push For Total Ban On Chemical Weapons

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File photo shows the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), The Hague, Netherlands. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

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Need Stressed To Counter CW Terrorism; US Still Has Two Stockpiles; Four States Have Not Signed On

By Nivedita Das Kundu @

“Remembrance Day” was commemorated on 11th of November, the. The 101 years have passed after the end of the First World War which incidentally, is also known as the Chemists’ War. Global community has moved forward and lot has been done.

Twenty three years have passed since entry-into-force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), in the year 1997.

There is a need for us to note many accomplishments and be grateful for a universal treaty regime, for almost complete abolition of declared chemical weapon stockpiles in eight possessor states, and perhaps most important, the establishment of a world free of deadly chemical agents, which were the major cause for the violence in the last century.

Since the early days of this Convention, a lot has been done and much praise needs to be noted for the determined and dedicated work of the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) technical secretariat and its inspectorate.

It has been acknowledged that 98% of the global population are covered by the Convention and that 97% of the chemical weapons stockpiles declared by possessor states have been verifiably destroyed.  Applause goes to OPCW on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize and the Convention framework can be used as a model for other major threats to world nations.

In this Oct. file photo, Jeff Brubaker, site manager at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant, points to a cylinder that will be used to moved deadly chemical weapons from storage to a new facility where they will be destroyed in Richmond, Ky. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, military leaders and Gov. Matt Bevin were in Richmond on Wednesday, May 29, 2019, to ceremonially mark the beginning of the elimination of more than 500 tons of mustard gas, sarin or VX agent stored at the Army depot. (AP Photo/Dylan Lovan, File)

Unfortunately, the threat from chemical weapons has not disappeared – the use of chemical weapons in recent past in Syria, Iraq, Malaysia, and in the United Kingdom have caused concern. There is a continuous challenge posed by non-state actors misusing chemicals. There is an ever-present risk that harmful chemical agents are still being used.

In light of recent events, it is encouraging to note the push made by Canada, the United States of America and the Netherlands, to add Novichok to Schedule 1 listed chemicals in the CWC, to ensure, the treaty remains robust and adaptive to current threats.

Achieving universalization and full compliance with the obligations of the CWC is in the interest of all States-Parties. It is important to reach out to the four remaining countries Egypt, Israel, North Korea, and South Sudan to join the Convention.

Pressure needs to be maintained on the United States, which still has two stockpiles of CW left to be destroyed and the deadline should not go beyond 2023.  The regime is the product of international cooperation and can only survive with greater partnership amongst state parties.

It is commendable to note that OPCW has made efforts in engaging various non-governmental stakeholders and improved relations with private, public and civil actors giving importance to public outreach and civil society’s involvement to play a constructive role towards fulfilling the CWC’s mandate.

Non governmental organizations and civil society are pleased to work with all components of OPCW to assure that the Convention is fully implemented in a transparent, science-based, and community-inclusive manner.

It is expected, that the proposed new Centre for Chemistry and Technology supported by OPCW state parties, will solidify the joint commitment, in the name of the victims of chemical weapons around the globe and in the name of the future generation for making the world truly free of chemical weapons.

However, the role of OPCW in countering CW terrorism, needs to be enhanced and well defined. It is anticipated that the OPCW is able to redefine its purpose owing to changing geopolitical realities and promote the peaceful use of chemistry.

@ Nivedita Das Kundu, Ph.D, is subject expert and participant of CSP 24 at the Hague, Netherlands.