The Executive Council (EC) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is due to meet tonight, 27 September, at 10pm CET.
Below is the text of the draft decision. Some of the highlights of the document are:
- The OPCW believes that the ultimate destruction deadline of mid-2014, as foreseen in the US-Russian Framework Agreement is achievable. The organisation recognises the need for a surge capacity in order to fulfil its own tasks, and will draw on past personnel with appropriate expertise as well as on voluntary contributions by states parties.
- The OPCW will work according to modified timelines relative to the ones foreseen in the CWC. In particular, the countdown to deadlines and interim milestones are to be counted from the day the EC has adopted the decision.
- As already became clear with its submission of initial declarations last Friday and Saturday, Syria has accepted as binding upon itself the US-Russian Framework Agreement. It will therefore cooperate with the OPCW according to the timelines decided by the EC, including the EC decisions on requirements to be met by Syria even before it has fully become a party to the convention (i.e., 14 October 2013).
- The document grants state party rights to Syria (e.g., confidentiality of its declarations and inspection reports, to which all states parties are bound). At the same time, it also emphasises the various compliance enforcement tools in the CWC.
- A very interesting passage is 2(d), which hints strongly at the challenge inspection process without naming it as such (Article IX of the CWC is not mentioned, in contrast to the references to specific articles and paragraphs in other parts of the draft decision). I seems different from a challenge inspection in several respects: each challenge request requires an independent decision by the EC, each time with the possibility of a refusal and negotiations with the challenged party on inspector rights (managed access) would take up time, something in very short supply in view of the tight final destruction deadline. However, the passage also contains a tool to avoid sending the inspectors on fool’s errands: the Director-General can determine whether a claim is unwarranted and state parties can use the bilateral consultation procedure to clarify certain matters before requesting an inspectors’ visit.
- Syria receives another week inaddition to the deadline in the US-Russian Framwork Agreement to be counted from the day of the EC decision to finalise its inital declaration. It has to submit very detailed data on its munitions (among other things), which will remove any existing ambiguity concerning the ownership of te rockets used in the Ghouta attacks.
The Executive Council,
Recalling that following its Thirty-Second Meeting, 27 March 2013, the Chairperson of the Executive Council (hereinafter “the Council”) issued a statement (EC-M-32/2/Rev. 1, dated 27 March 2013) expressing “deep concern that chemical weapons may have been used in the Syrian Arab Republic,” and underlining that “the use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances would be reprehensible and completely contrary to the legal norms and standards of the international community”;