In my blog posting of 16 January entitled ‘Palestine: From a “will-be” party to the CWC to a “would-have-been”?’, I described how Palestine submitted its instrument of accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) with the UN Secretary-General on 29 December, only to withdraw it on 8 January. Since having achieved the status of ‘UN non-member observer state’ in 2012, Palestine has joined over 50 international agreements, including the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, to which it became formally a party on 16 January. The CWC is the only treaty on which it reversed its position.
Something really remarkable happened in the first two weeks of 2018. On 2 January, quite out of the blue came the notification by UN Secretary-General António Guterres that the State of Palestine had deposited its instrument of accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). It was to become the 193rd state party on 28 January, thirty days after having submitted the document (29 December). Indeed, ‘was’. Guterres formally informed UN members on 11 January that Palestine had withdrawn its instrument of accession three days earlier.
Opinion by Prof Benjamin Ruiz Loyola, Faculty of Chemistry, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and Member of the OPCW Advisory Board on Education and Outreach (ABEO)
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is an organization devoted to the destruction of all the chemical weapons over our world, to prevent the reemergence of this weapons of mass destruction and to prevent the abuse or misuse of dual-use chemical compounds or technologies. This activities of the OPCW are determined by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), an international agreement signed and ratified by 192 countries (and one that in the next few days will be doing the same], representing more than 98% of the world’s population. Among many other activities, there are some that have a great importance for the chemical related industries.
The final document of the 2017 Meeting of States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) can be downloaded from: 20171208 Final document – draft (scan)
This is a scan of the draft version as it was distributed to delegations in the meeting room. Some modifications were made and insertions added.
For the full official final version of the meeting report, please check in the course of next week the website of the BTWC Implementation Support Unit at http://bit.ly/2kFSj6c
Joint NGO Statement to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Meeting of States Parties
Geneva, 5 December 2017
Mr Chair, Distinguished Representatives:
Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today. I am pleased to have taken over the role as NGO Coordinator from Graham Pearson who so ably carried out this task for 20 years. This year, the NGO community offers a joint statement, to more powerfully focus our key messages to you. I am speaking on behalf of 19 organizations and 40 individuals, the full list of which is attached to the written copy of this statement. The joint statement will be followed by short, individual statements from those who would like to elaborate on points made in the joint statement, emphasise other important areas, express alternate views, or highlight contributions to BWC-relevant initiatives.
Statement by Dr Jean Pascal Zanders, Chairperson of the OPCW Advisory Board on Education and Outreach, to the 22nd Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention
The Hague, (delivered) 1 December 2017
2017 has been the second year of work for the Advisory Board on Education and Outreach (ABEO) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The ABEO held two meetings at the OPCW Headquarters from 14 to 16 March and from 29 to 31 August. Members also participated actively in intersessional virtual sessions to prepare and comment on diverse preparatory documents. They furthermore contributed actively to regional meetings and the 19th Annual Meeting of National Authorities, which was held here in The Hague last week. The ABEO also benefited from substantive input by the permanent observers from the International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA).
Anna Feigenbaum, Tear Gas (Verso: London, 2017), 224p.
Anna Feigenbaum is an academic at the Centre for the Study of Journalism, Culture and Community, Bournemouth University. Her interest lies in data storytelling, an approach that benefits from increasing access to data to build a more complex narrative in support of social change. That narrative is furthermore interwoven with practitioners’ experience and empirical research. Her just published book Tear Gas: From the Battlefields of WW1 to the Streets of Today uses this approach to explain how a chemical warfare agent first used over a century ago has become a common weapon in the arsenals of police forces worldwide.
(A weekly digest from the internet on chemical and biological warfare issues. Emphasis is on incidents and perspectives, but inclusion of an item does not equal endorsement or agreement with the contents. This issue covers items collected between 10 – 16 July 2017.)
CBW disarmamentScientists Review Innovative Technologies for Chemical Security (OPCW, 7 July 2017): The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) discussed the potential uses innovative scientific and technological tools in the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) at a workshop “Innovative Technologies for Chemical Security”, held from 3 to 5 July in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Triggering Article VII of the BTWC (Jean Pascal Zanders, 10 July 2017):Last November, during the 8th Review Conference of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS) in cooperation with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) organised a tabletop exercise on the implementation of the BTWC’s Article VII, which provides for emergency assistance in case a State Party Party has been exposed to danger as a result of a treaty violation. (Full report) Choosing a new OPCW head (by Andreas Persbo, 11 July 2017): On Thursday this week, seven candidates hoping to replace Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü will present their candidacies to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). They have been asked by Ambassador Sheikh Mohammed Belal, the chair of the Executive Council, to focus on two pertinent questions: the priorities and future challenges of the OPCW and the management of the Secretariat itself. OPCW endorses plan for the destruction of chemical weapons on San José Island, Panama (Panama, 14 July 2017): Members of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) endorsed the plan submitted by the Republic of Panama for the destruction of eight (8) abandoned chemical munitions located on San José Island. The operation will take place in the last quarter of 2017.
US to destroy chemical weapons from World War Two it left behind in Panama
More complex than imagined
Last November, during the 8th Review Conference of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS) in cooperation with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) organised a tabletop exercise on the implementation of the BTWC’s Article VII, which provides for emergency assistance in case a State Party Party has been exposed to danger as a result of a treaty violation.
The Trench has already provided an account of the two-day workshop.
(A weekly digest from the internet on chemical and biological warfare issues. Emphasis is on incidents and perspectives, but inclusion of an item does not equal endorsement or agreement with the contents. This issue covers items collected between 3 – 9 July 2017.)
- OPCW Director-General Election (Roy Lie A Tjam, 4 July 2017): Eight Ambassadors are vying for the post of Director General, each of who have been put forward by their respective governments for the post. The candidates come from the following countries: Burkina Faso, Denmark, Hungary, Iraq, Lithuania, Spain, South Korea and Tanzania.
- OPCW Director-General Calls for Strong Ethics in the Pursuit of Science at Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany (OPCW, 4 July 2017): The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü reflected on the ethical dimension of chemistry during the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting on 30 June. During the panel discussion on ethics in science, Ambassador Üzümcü recalled that this year the OPCW marks the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the establishment of the OPCW. He depicted the challenges and achievements of the two decades of the Organisation’s existence and lauded the Convention as “one of the world’s vanguards against weapons of mass destruction”, which represents today “an essential component of the international legal and security system”.
- Reinforcing the Global Norm Against Chemical Weapons (Anita E. Friedt, 7 July 2017): Last month, the U.S. Department of State hosted a forum commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Chemical Weapons Convention’s (CWC) entry into force. The forum, entitled “The Chemical Weapons Convention 1997-2017: Progress, Challenges, and Reinforcing the Global Norm against Chemical Weapons,” brought together current and former government officials, NGO representatives, academia, and industry leaders to examine the progress made during the CWC’s 20-year history, and to discuss strategies to meet ongoing challenges.
Syria Reaffirms Destruction of Chemical Weapons