26th Conference of the States Parties confirms second term for Director-General Arias and adopts decision on aerosolized Central Nervous System-Acting Chemicals
From 29 November to 02 December 2021, the States Parties to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) met for the annual Conference of the States Parties at the World Forum in The Hague. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the conference was kept as short as possible and only one person per delegation was allowed in the plenary. The Conference was chaired by the Norwegian Ambassador Ambassador Bård Ivar Svendsen, and Germany was represented by Ambassador Gudrun Lingner.
The Conference of the States Parties (CSP) is the highest policy-making organ of the OPCW and oversees the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). This Convention aims at creating a world free of chemical weapons and entered into force in 1993. The worldwide protection of people and the environment from toxic chemicals is its highest command, and the work of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) contributes considerably to this ultimate goal. Therefore, NGOs can participate in parts of the CSP, where they can report on their work. It was therefore all the more regrettable that, due to the objection of a few States Parties, some NGOs were denied participation at the 26th CSP, including the Berlin-based “Global Public Policy Institute”. Along with 53 other States Parties, Germany protested against this refusal of NGO participation in a joint statement read out at the beginning of the Conference.
An important strategic decision for the OPCW's work in the coming years was the consensual re-election of Fernando Arias as Director-General of the OPCW for a second mandate. This expressed the States Parties’ immense trust in Fernando Arias, who has led the Organisation competently and efficiently since July 2018. His second four-year term will begin in July 2022. The Permanent Representation of the Federal Republic of Germany to the OPCW welcomes the re-election of Ambassador Arias as Director-General and looks forward to continuing the successful cooperation.
As an integral part of the CSP, the States Parties regularly discuss new technological developments, with which the Organisation must keep pace in order to meet the challenges and threats of the coming years. A significant step towards further clarifying the scope of the CWC was achieved with the adoption of the decision on Aerosolized Central Nervous System-Acting Chemicals. This decision, which was co-sponsored by Germany, clarifies a former grey zone and de facto loophole of implementation in the CWC that had existed for decades.
For the OPCW to fulfil its mandate, sufficient funding is indispensable. In order to ensure this, the 26th CSP adopted the first biennial budget for 2022 & 2023. On behalf of the German Federal Government, Ambassador Lingner welcomed this decision and reiterated Germany's support for the OPCW. This support is also reflected in the agreement for an additional voluntary contribution of 1 million Euro to the Trust Fund for OPCW Training Programmes at the ChemTech Centre. The agreement was signed at the side-lines of the CSP by Ambassador Lingner and DG Arias.