New Delhi: United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said, "Chemical weapons "have no place in our world" and their use anywhere, by anyone, for any reason is unacceptable", underlining the importance of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The Secretary-General was speaking through a video message at the fifth Session of the Review Conference (RC) of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) that is taking place at Hague, Netherlands.
More than 800 representatives from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Member States, civil society, the chemical industry, and academia are joining the weeklong review process. A few side events are taking place on the margins of the Conference, focusing on topics related to the CWC.
The Conference happens every five years and examines the Chemical Weapons Convention's (CWC) operation. The RC evaluates the Convention's implementation status and sets out priorities for the OPCW for the upcoming years.
Today, the biggest threat to the misuse of chemical weapons is from Non-State Actors or terrorists. The fear is that these chemicals that can produce lethal weapons should not reach the hands of terrorists or rogue elements who develop the capacity to use chemical, biological, and radiological improvised weapons in attacks, as well as the possible consequences of such use.
In a resolute statement, UN Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized that chemical weapons in our world are utterly unacceptable, declaring unequivocally that they have no place in our society. The Review Conference (RC) serves as a platform for evaluating the functioning of the Chemical Weapons Convention and assessing its implementation status while also establishing critical priorities for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the years to come.
Attended by over 800 representatives from various quarters, including OPCW Member States, civil society, the chemical industry, and academia, this weeklong review process holds great significance. The Conference features several side events conducted alongside its main proceedings, focusing on topics directly relevant to the CWC.
Presently, the gravest danger regarding chemical weapons misuse stems from non-state actors, particularly terrorists. The overriding concern lies in preventing these lethal chemicals from falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue elements who can employ chemical, biological, radiological, and improvised weapons in their attacks. The ramifications of such utilization are potentially dire, necessitating heightened vigilance and stringent preventive measures.
Secretary-General António Guterres expressed grave concern over the continuous use of chemical weapons, emphasizing the risk of eroding the hard-fought progress made thus far. He stressed the imperative of concerted efforts to eradicate these senseless weapons of terror. In a bid to honour the victims of such attacks and serve as a deterrent to potential future perpetrators, Guterres called for the identification and accountability of those responsible for any use of chemical weapons.
Ambassador Fernando Arias, Director-General of the OPCW, declared at the Conference's opening that the ban on chemical weapons usage is permanent and unquestionable, highlighting the near-universal adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention. As the implementing body for the Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Member States, assumes the crucial role of overseeing the global endeavour to eliminate chemical weapons definitively.
Since the Convention's inception in 1997, it stands as the most successful disarmament treaty, effectively eliminating an entire category of weapons of mass destruction. The OPCW's rigorous verification measures have facilitated the destruction of over 99% of declared chemical weapon stockpiles.
India plays an active role in this international effort as a signatory and party to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Having signed the Treaty in January 1993, India subsequently enacted the Chemical Weapons Convention Act in 2000, aligning its domestic legislation with the provisions of the Convention. The Chemical Weapons Convention represents a universal, non-discriminatory, and multilateral disarmament treaty encompassing a comprehensive ban on developing, acquiring, transferring, using, and stockpiling all chemical weapons.
Under the Treaty, all State Parties are placed on an equal footing. Countries possessing chemical weapon stockpiles must declare and eliminate them within specified timeframes. At the same time, transparency is demanded from those engaged in producing and using chemicals that can be readily converted into chemical weapons.
To fulfil India's obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and establish effective liaison with the OPCW and other State Parties, the National Authority for Chemical Weapons Convention (NACWC) was established as an office of the Cabinet Secretariat in 1997 in India. The NACWC acts as the national focal point for matters relating to the Convention on behalf of the Government of India.