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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) > Releases > Remarks > 2004

Statement to the Ninth Conference of States Parties of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

Ambassador Eric M. Javits, Head of the U.S. Delegation
The Hague, The Netherlands
November 29, 2004

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Director-General, Distinguished Delegates,

Let me begin by taking this opportunity, Mr. Chairman, to welcome you to the chair and to pledge the support of the United States delegation to ensuring the success of this Conference of the States Parties. I am especially pleased to address all of you at this Conference, which marks a particularly historic year for the OPCW. The Conference is always an important occasion. It is the opportunity for all of us to review and assess what we have accomplished in the preceding year. More important, it is an opportunity to launch our work for the coming year, in particular, by approving the budget and program of activity for 2005. But as we look at what we’ve accomplished in the past year, and what lies ahead, it seems to me that this year’s Conference is, in some ways, a special occasion.

It has been a good year for the Chemical Weapons Convention. Our ranks have grown to 167 member states. Chemical weapons have now been outlawed across the vast majority of the world. Libya made a strategic choice to abandon its programs for development of weapons of mass destruction, and acceded to the Convention. That welcome decision to abandon its chemical weapons program generated challenges for the OPCW throughout this year: a substantial, unexpected workload for the Verification Division and the Inspectorate, both of which performed ably, and a political challenge for member states in the form of a proposed technical change to the Convention. The Executive Council also performed effectively, and unanimously endorsed that proposal. The technical change will allow Libya to convert the Rabta chemical weapons production facility to produce low-cost pharmaceuticals to treat AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis throughout the African continent and the developing world--a "peace dividend" if there ever was one. It is my hope and my expectation that the 90–day review period will expire in January without any objections being raised, allowing the change to enter into force.

We’ve also done some good, important work in other areas--less newsworthy and exciting, perhaps, but nonetheless vital. The Executive Council has recommended an expansion of the OPCW Working Capital Fund to help stabilize the Organization’s finances--a recommendation I hope we will adopt this week. The Technical Secretariat, with the cooperation of the U.S. and other possessor states, has undertaken important work to assess and optimize its approach to verification. And the Director-General has worked tirelessly to bring new members into the Convention and to urge effective national implementation.

I’m afraid, distinguished colleagues, that the reward for all this good work is not to sit on our laurels. In the coming year we face a whole new series of challenges and opportunities, and need to rise once more to meet them.

The first challenge we face cannot wait until the coming year: we need to reach agreement on the budget and program for 2005 this week. I would like to thank the Director-General and the Director of Administration for presenting the 2005 budget to us in a new, Results-Based Budgeting format. The introduction of RBB is a major step forward in ensuring that OPCW resources are focused on the key concerns of the member states and are used to maximum efficiency. This is OPCW’s initial effort at RBB; further refinement is called for; but what is noteworthy is that the organization has courageously taken its first steps in a process that will define in a more measurable way what we expect the Technical Secretariat to accomplish, and why.

The Director-General's revised budget proposal calls for an increase of 3.5% for the coming year. We support the Director-General’s budget proposals and believe that consensus can be reached on the basis of his budget proposal with relatively little additional work. My delegation is ready to engage in that work.

Mr. Chairman, this conference finds us at the mid-point of the Action Plan we agreed to a year ago on implementation of Article VII obligations. The Action Plan was an important initiative, undertaken at the instruction of the first Review Conference in 2003. Our goal is not just a Convention that is universal, but a Convention that is universally implemented. And in today’s security environment, where terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction are among the gravest threats we face, effective national measures to implement Convention obligations play a vital role in assuring our collective safety.

The plan of action has specific targets that all member states agreed to fully implement by the time the Conference meets next year. It is a major undertaking, and there has indeed been progress, but a substantial amount of work remains to be done. As I have stated previously, the U.S. finds it disturbing, if not scandalous, that some States Parties have not even met their obligation to designate a National Authority, some seven years after entry into force of the Convention.

Meeting the goals of the Action Plan will require that we redouble our efforts in the coming year. Our efforts over the past year were significant, but we have not achieved our goals. Nevertheless, we believe that every State Party should now have an understanding of what the Convention requires, and we believe that sufficient support and assistance is available to permit every State Party to reach our shared goals. We are, then, cautiously optimistic that a large majority of member states will be in compliance with their Article VII obligations by the time we meet at next year's Conference, especially in view of the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 earlier this year. At that point--roughly a year from today--member states will need to consider how to deal with those who still have not met their Article VII obligations.

In the meantime, the U.S. stands ready to assist the Technical Secretariat and member states through bilateral contacts, close coordination with the TS, responses to requests for assistance, and participation in regional workshops. We have collaborated with Romania, as many of you are aware, in developing an Implementation Assistance Program to provide information and assistance to States Parties in need. Both Romanian and U.S. technical experts are here this week to provide briefings, distribute and demonstrate the software, and answer any questions you may have.

We can all be proud of the fact that since the last Conference we have added nine new States Party to the Convention. We commend the work of the staff and the facilitator for universality, Hela Lahmar of Tunisia, for their tireless efforts to promote universal adherence to the Convention. It is clear that we are increasingly facing the challenge of dealing with the truly difficult cases--states that have yet to be persuaded of the security benefits of renouncing chemical weapons. The difficulty of bringing in the last, reluctant holdouts increases the need to improve coordination within the Technical Secretariat, between the staff and member states, and among member states in order to encourage non-States Parties to join the Convention. We must continue to send a clear, unanimous message to those holdouts: the development, production, acquisition, possession, transfer, or use of chemical weapons is unacceptable under any circumstances. Once again, I pledge the continuing support of the U.S. to assist in these efforts.

Mr. Chairman, I am not going to spend time in my statement today on the subject of compliance. This is not because it is not important. Indeed, it is the most fundamental of issues, and deserves fuller treatment than I can give it in this statement. I am pleased to inform the Conference that Ms. Paula DeSutter, United States Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance, will be addressing the Conference tomorrow under the agenda item on "Status of Implementation" to discuss the critical issue of compliance under the Convention.

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Director-General, Distinguished Representatives, it has been an honor to address you today. We can all look back on a year of great accomplishments that have raised the profile of our organization. And we confidently look ahead to the challenges that face us in the coming year. The United States delegation, and I personally, pledge to work with all of you during the course of this Conference, and over the next year, as we address the complex and important issues on our agenda and strive to reach the common goal of a world without chemical weapons.

But before I step away from the dais, permit me to briefly address the men and women of the Technical Secretariat. Thank you. Thank you for your efforts, your hard work, and your many accomplishments. I cannot overstate how much we value and appreciate your dedication and skill. We recognize that the introduction of the OPCW tenure policy has resulted in disruption, and, for some of you, personal anxiety and strain. We want to ensure that each of you is treated fairly as the OPCW goes through this difficult, but necessary period of transition. And we want to assure you that you have our respect, and our profound gratitude. Thank you.


Released on November 30, 2004

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