Seventh Conference Of The States Parties of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical WeaponsAmbassador Eric M. Javits, United States Delegation
Remarks to Seventh Conference of the States Parties of the OPCW
The Hague, The Netherlands
October 7, 2002
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Director-General, Distinguished Delegates, it is an honor and a privilege for me to be here and to take the floor today for the first time. I would like to begin by expressing the condolences of the American people on the death of Prince Claus.
The meeting of the Conference of the States Parties is always an important occasion. It is the opportunity for all of us, the members of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), to review and assess what we have accomplished -- or not accomplished -- in the preceding months. Perhaps even more importantly, it is an excellent opportunity to launch the coming year's work and to direct the organization, by approving the program and budget.
This year has been, to say the least, unusual. This body met for the first time in Special Session, in April and again in July, to address probably the most difficult issue an international organization can face. The Conference's decision to dismiss the then-Director-General of the Technical Secretariat was a difficult one. No one was happy about it, but the Conference agreed overwhelmingly that it was a necessary step for the future health and well-being of our Organization.
The appointment of the new Director-General was naturally a more positive event, and it is my government's strong view that Ambassador Pfirter has already taken very important steps to reform the Technical Secretariat, and put the Organization as a whole, on the right path. We congratulate the Director-General on his work so far, and encourage him to continue his efforts to reform the Technical Secretariat.
We have been impressed by the Director-General's efforts to breathe new life into the Technical Secretariat -- and equally impressed by his efforts to build a new, constructive relationship with the Member States. Clearly, however, there is much work to be done to put the OPCW house in order, and the Director-General can only succeed in doing so, in concert with the OPCW governing bodies and with the strong support of States Parties.
I was pleased to hear Director-General Pfirter express appreciation for the United States demonstration of its support for the OPCW by providing a voluntary contribution of $2 million. This money will be used, as needed, to maintain budgeted levels of inspection activity; to assist the Director-General in improving the management, functioning, and efficiency of the Technical Secretariat, and for international cooperation activities to help States Parties implement the Convention; among other things.
This money is intended to assist the Organization in meeting urgent needs. It is not a substitute for an adequate budget, but a complement to one. That said, we believe such contributions play a vital role in the life of an international organization, and we encourage others to consider similar contributions. For those who have already done so, we tender our thanks and appreciation.
Partly as a result of the Director-General's leadership abilities, a new spirit and improved morale within the Organization was clearly evident at the September Session of the Executive Council. The Council was able to take decisions on an impressive number of issues that had been before it for as long as a year. The Council meeting that began last Thursday, October 3, and will resume during this week, has not reached decisions on all of the issues before it. Nonetheless, this meeting of the Council already has resolved some significant matters that had been on the Council's agenda for quite some time.
This has been, in our view, the result of a strengthened spirit of cooperation among the States Parties, and of more effective collaboration between States Parties and the Technical Secretariat. I can assure you Mr. Chairman that you will have the full support of the U.S. Delegation at this Conference.
However, there are also issues of vital importance on which the Executive Council has not been able to make a recommendation to the Conference. These issues will require intensive work in the coming days. The distinguished head of delegation of the Russian Federation already has highlighted an issue that will be at the forefront of our collective attention: his country's request for extensions of the deadlines for destruction of its Category I chemical weapon stockpiles. I agree completely that this is a vital matter for our Organization.
The distinguished representative of the European Union has also just addressed this important issue. Mr. Chairman, the United States supports a step by step approach and separate review of each of the treaty deadlines. States Parties must be satisfied that each request for additional time is warranted. States Parties must also be assured that the extended deadline is achievable. The United States believes that agreement can be reached at this Conference on the Russian request for an extension of the one-percent deadline. We are also prepared to continue to work with the Russian Federation and others to perhaps find a way ahead on the request for an extension to the 20% deadline.
Another crucial matter that has been remanded to the Conference is the Organization's Program of Work and Budget for 2003. A great deal of work has been done and I am confident that solutions can be found to the questions that remain open. A budget that reflects, in a balanced and practical way, the needs of all Member States and the requirements of the Organization is certainly within our grasp.
There is one more issue I would like to address this morning, Mr. Chairman. That is the upcoming Review Conference, the next major event on the OPCW calendar. I would like to thank Ambassador Daverede of Argentina for all his hard work this year. Preparations for the Review Conference are well in hand and headed in the right direction. It is the view of the United States that the Review Conference should reaffirm the value of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the obligation of States Parties to comply with its provisions. The United States will be developing national papers for the Review Conference, and we look forward to working with Ambassador Daverede during the run-up to the Conference.
In closing, I will reiterate a point that other U.S. representatives have made in recent times to the Executive Council: the OPCW has the opportunity to make a fresh start. Indeed, it has already taken some important and energetic steps in the right direction. We trust that the Conference of the States Parties, the policy-making organ of the Organization, will confirm and give added impetus to that fresh start.
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Director-General, staff of the Technical Secretariat, Chairman of the Executive Council, and Distinguished Representatives, it has been an honor to address you today. The United States delegation, and I personally, look forward to working with you in the coming days, as we address the many complex and important issues on our agenda as we strive to reach the common goal of a world without chemical weapons.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Released on October 10, 2002