The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was created under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC), negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament and that entered into force on 29 April 1997. Its role is to ensure implementation of the Convention's provisions, including those for international compliance, and to provide a forum for consultation and cooperation. It is an independent inter-governmental organisation, not a UN specialised agency. An Agreement Concerning the Relationship between the UN and the OPCW was signed on 17 October 2000. It was approved by the Conference of States Parties in May 2001 and the UN General Assembly in GA res. 55/283(2001).
The CWC is a global disarmament agreement that bans the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons, and provides for the destruction of existing chemical weapons stockpiles and related facilities within a specific timeframe. States Parties undertake never to:
Develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons, or transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons to anyone
Use chemical weapons
Engage in military preparations to use chemical weapons
Assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under the Convention.
States Parties also undertake:
To destroy chemical weapons they own or possess, or that are located in any place under their jurisdiction or control, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention
To destroy all chemical weapons they abandoned on the territory of another State Party
To destroy any chemical weapons production facilities they own or possess, or that are located in any place under their jurisdiction or control
Not to use riot control agents as a method of warfare.
The Convention also regulates the production, processing, consumption and, to some degree, the international transfer of toxic chemicals that can be converted into, or used to produce, chemical weapons. To this end, the OPCW monitors the chemical industry by means of compulsory annual national declarations by States Parties, controls the transfer of some chemicals listed in the Convention, and has a system of routine visits and challenge inspections by OPCW Technical Secretariat inspectors.
Conference of States Parties
The Conference of the States Parties is the plenary organ consisting of all members of the OPCW. It has the general power to oversee implementation of the Convention and, in this regard, the Conference may make recommendations and take decisions on any questions, matters or issues within the scope of the Convention. The Conference oversees the activities of the Council and Secretariat and may issue guidelines in accordance with the Convention to either of them.
The Conference Chair is Julio Roberto Palomo Silva, Guatemala, who holds office until a successor is elected at the 16th session of the Conference. Vice-Chairs are Bolivia, Chile, Iran, Italy, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Ukraine and USA.
The Executive Council (EC) considers any issues or matters within its competence affecting the Convention and its implementation, including concerns regarding compliance. It brings non-compliance cases to the attention of the Conference as appropriate. The EC consists of 41 members sitting on a rotational basis, with regard to equitable geographical distribution and the importance of the chemical industry, as well as to political and security interests. Its membership comprises nine African states, nine Asian states, five Eastern European states, seven Latin American and Caribbean states, 10 Western European and Other states, plus one further seat rotating between Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Nominations for election are made from within each region respectively.
The EC Chair is Peter Goosen, South Africa, for one year from 12 May 2011. Vice-Chairs are Argentina, Germany, India and the Russian Federation.
The Conference of States Parties meets annually in The Hague, Netherlands. The 16th session is scheduled to be held from 28 November to 2 December 2011. The 17th session is scheduled to be held from 26 to 30 November 2012. The Executive Council holds three or four regular sessions annually.
As at 31 May 2011, 188 countries are members of the OPCW. Two countries had signed but not yet ratified the Convention. Members' terms of appointment to the Executive Council are from May to May
Aghanistan Albania Algeria Andorra Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bhutan Bolivia Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Brazil Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Central African Republic Chad Chile China Colombia Comoros Congo Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d'Ivoire Croatia Cuba Cyprus Czech Republic DR Congo Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Fiji Finland France Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Grenada Greece Guatemala Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Holy See Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran Iraq Ireland Italy Jamaica Japan Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kribati Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao PDR Latvia Lebanon Lesoto Liberia Libyan AJ Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Marshall Islands Mauritania Mauritius Mexico Micronesia Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Morocco Mozambique Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norway Oman Pakistan Palau Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Poland Portugal Qatar ROK Republic of Moldova Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Scrbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands South Africa Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Tajikistan Thailand The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Timor-Leste Togo Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine UAE UK UR of Tanzania USA Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela VietNam Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe
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