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 Guterres formally informed UN members on 11 January that Palestine had withdrawn its instrument of accession three days earlier.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.
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
(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
(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 26 June – 2 July 2017.)
- Russia has destroyed 99% of its chemical weapons – supervising general (RT, 26 June 2017): Russia only has only one percent of its chemical weapons stockpile left. The rest has been destroyed, according to the head of the country’s Federal Administration for the Safe Storage and Destruction of Chemical Weapons, Major General Valery Kapashin. Some “99 percent of the chemical weapons stored in Russia have been destroyed,” the high-ranking official said.
CBW threatsOpen Debate on Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction What’s in Blue, 27 June 2017): At the initiative of Bolivia, the Security Council will hold an open debate tomorrow (28 June) on “the global effort to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by non-state actors.” It will focus on the implementation of resolution 1540 and the work of the 1540 Committee, which is chaired by Ambassador Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz of Bolivia. Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, and Joseph Ballard, Senior Officer from the Office of Strategy and Policy of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, are expected to brief the Council. Bolivia will also brief in its capacity as chair of the 1540 Committee. At press time, it appeared that some 60 member states, including Council members, are expected to participate in the meeting. International cooperation key to keeping WMDs away from terrorists, Security Council told (UN News, 28 June 2017) The United Nations disarmament chief today called for stronger international cooperation to prevent terrorists from accessing and using weapons of mass destruction, warning that technological advances – such as unmanned aerial vehicles, 3-D printers and the Dark Web – make it easier for terrorist groups to effectively use such weapons.
UN: Terrorists Using ‘Dark Web’ in Pursuit of WMDs
(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 19 – 25 June 2017.)
CBW disarmamentBlue Grass Army Depot one of state’s largest military installations (Kentucky Today, 19 June 2017): Established in 1941, this military installation, covering 14,594 acres, is the state’s third largest. The facility employs over 700 people (60 percent of whom are veterans) and adds $225 million in economic value to Kentucky. Blue Grass Army Depot fulfills a number of critical missions for the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense. Contained within the Blue Grass Army Depot is the Blue Grass Chemical Activity, which ensures the safe and secure storage of the installation’s chemical weapons stockpile. The chemical weapons stockpile is housed in 49 earth covered, concrete igloos on 250 acres within the larger Depot. In 1997 the United States signed and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, agreeing to eliminate all of its chemical weapons and former production facilities. The key mission of the Blue Grass Chemical Activity section stems from that treaty, namely, the safe storage of the chemical stockpile until demilitarization (safe destruction) is complete. U.S. Department of State Hosts Forum on Reinforcing the Global Norm Against Chemical Weapons (Office of the Spokesperson, 20 June 2017): On June 20, the U.S. Department of State hosted a high-level forum entitled, “The Chemical Weapons Convention 1997-2017: Progress, Challenges, and Reinforcing the Global Norm against Chemical Weapons.” Since its entry into force 20 years ago, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)—with 192 States Parties— has verified the destruction of approximately 95 percent of all declared chemical weapons stockpiles, and thereby made a significant contribution to making our world a safer place. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the CWC’s implementing body, has facilitated the destruction of chemical weapons in Albania, China, Iraq, Libya, Russia, Syria, and the United States – among others. Nonetheless, the international community’s work is far from done, and serious challenges remain. Dugway Under Scrutiny Again Over Handling of Deadly Toxins (Richard Sisk, 22 June 2017): The Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, which figured in a major scandal on the shipment of live anthrax, has come under scrutiny again in the handling and accounting of deadly toxins such as Sarin nerve agent. In a report last week titled “The Army Needs to Improve Controls Over Chemical Surety Materials,” the office of the Defense Department’s Acting Inspector General Glenn Fine found that Dugway officials failed to give immediate notice of an accounting discrepancy that showed a 1.5 milliliter shortage of Sarin.
Thousands still to go but 46,000 abandoned Japanese chemical arms destroyed in China to date
(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 12 – 18 June 2017.)
CBW disarmament“Sarin chemical agent stockpiles completely eradicated in Russia”: official (Ivan Castro, 12 June 2017): All the stockpiles of sarin chemical agent in Russia have been liquidated, Russian Interfax agency reported citing Colonel General Valery Kapashin, head of the Federal Agency on safe keeping and liquidation of chemical weapons. China, OPCW pledge further cooperation (Xinhua, 12 June 2017): Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi on Monday met with visiting Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Ahmeet Uzumcu, and the two pledged to enhance cooperation. Morocco Elected African Coordinator for Chemical Weapons Prohibition Organization (Ezzoubeir Jabrane, 13 June 2017): The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has elected Morocco to be the coordinator for its African state members, the Moroccan Embassy in the Netherlands announced Monday. Morocco succeeded Kenya in this annual function.
Washington: Russian chemical weapons will never threaten U.S. again