On 9 December I attended a one-day seminar entitled Assistance and capacity-building in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1540, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It took place in one of the committee rooms in the old building of the African Union Commission. It had none of the trappings of many modern high-tech venues, but offered all amenities one can wish for during a day-long meeting: an electricity plug under the desk (a civilisational advance that has yet to reach the main room for meetings of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, or BTWC, at the United Nations in Geneva), internet access, soothing brown background colours of wood-panelled walls, and—most unusual nowadays—daylight. Two pyramidal domes in the ceiling let in glorious sunshine and skimming light entering through the rows of windows running the entire length of the back wall softened the sharp contrasts thrown by the sunrays from above. Even in the late afternoon when a diffuse darkness was gradually filling the committee room, the rays of a setting sun lit up the roofs of nearby buildings in a colourful backdrop to participants exchanging final impressions of the day’s discussions.
Exactly one year ago today, the Conference of the States Parties in its 20th session decided on the establishment of the Advisory Board on Education and Outreach (ABEO) as a subsidiary body to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
In 2016 the 15-member board met twice and formulated its first sets of recommendations. On 1 December I reported on the ABEO’s work to the 21st session of the Conference of the States Parties. Due to a 7-minute time restriction I could deliver only a summary of the most important points. Below is the full text of the statement as circulated to the states party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Syria’s Chemical Demilitarization:
Progress, Challenges, and Lessons
A Roundtable Discussion with
Dr. Paul F. Walker, Amb. Serguei Batsanov,Dr. Ralf Trapp, & Dr. Jean Pascal Zanders
Introductory Remarks by Dr. Alexander Likhotal
Organized by Green Cross International, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, and the Chemical Weapons Convention Coalition
Monday, May 19, 2014, 17:00-19:00
WMO Building, 7 bis avenue de la Paix, 2d floor
Vieira de Mello auditorium
Syria’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in September 2013 made it the 190th State Party to the Convention with only six countries now remaining outside the treaty regime. This historic event, which occurred under very special circumstances, set in motion the unprecedented international efforts under the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations with the view of dismantling the CW program, including elimination of stockpiles, production facilities, and weapon systems – in the hostile and dangerous environment of a fierce civil war. Since 24 April 2014 over 90% of Syria’s declared chemicals (precursors and warfare agents) have been either destroyed in-country or shipped out of Syria for neutralization on board the MV Cape Ray in the Mediterranean and final destruction at facilities in Finland, Germany, the UK, and the US. This panel of experts will review the history of this process, missed deadlines, current progress, ongoing challenges, allegations of use of chemicals in warfare, and implications for the Syrian civil war.
Open letter to Secretaries John Kerry and Chuck Hagel
February 3, 2014
Secretary of State John Kerry
US Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington DC 20520
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
US Department of Defense
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington DC 20301-1400
RE: Public Outreach and Stakeholder Involvement in Destruction of Syrian Chemical Weapons
Dear Secretary Kerry and Secretary Hagel:
We the undersigned environmental, public health, nonproliferation, and arms control experts have been closely following all aspects of the Syrian chemical disarmament process. We believe that the most urgent issue today is to make sure that all relevant chemicals from the Syrian stockpiles are speedily delivered to the port of Latakia and loaded onto the Norwegian and Danish ships.