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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) > Releases > Remarks > 2005

Remarks to the Tenth Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

Peter Lichtenbaum, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
The Hague, The Netherlands
November 8, 2005

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

Thank you for the opportunity to address the Conference today on a matter of critical importance. National implementation of CWC requirements is an issue that equally affects all States Parties and merits the full attention of this Conference. Possessor states, non-possessor States, States Parties with sizable chemical industries and those States Parties with small industries all must fulfill the national implementation obligations established in Article VII. There are no exceptions or exemptions to this requirement. All States Parties share this common duty. And since these national measures are the tools by which States Parties ensure that neither they, nor their citizens, nor anyone on their territory possesses, stockpiles, or uses chemical weapons, or assists, encourages, or induces others to do so, there are no States Parties where fulfilling these obligations is unimportant.

At the time of the First Review Conference approximately two and a half years ago, the state of Article VII implementation was alarming. Only fifty-five percent of States Parties had informed the OPCW of the measures they had taken to implement the CWC. Only about one-quarter of States Parties had adopted legislation covering all key areas. And approximately one-quarter of States Parties had yet to establish or designate a National Authority. Those are not just statistics. They are gaping holes in our collective security net.

In response to this grave situation, the Review Conference drafted a political declaration stressing in part that national implementation is one of the essential elements for the effective operation of the Convention. States Parties committed to make every effort to overcome difficulties and delays to fully meet their implementation obligations. To achieve the goal of universal, effective implementation, the Eighth Conference of the States Parties adopted the Plan of Action Regarding the Implementation of Article VII Obligations. That Plan called on member states to provide information about the status of their national implementation; urged them to seek assistance if required; and enjoined both member states and the Technical Secretariat to provide support, advice, and assistance. This plan should be viewed as part of a broader framework of efforts to close the gaps in our collective security, along with Security Council Resolution 1540 and other initiatives. In this plan, the Conference also established a two-year deadline for compliance. It agreed to review at its tenth session the status of implementation and consider and decide on any appropriate measures to be taken in order to ensure such compliance with Article VII. In our view, CSP-10 is a real deadline.

The assistance promised in the Action Plan has been forthcoming. The Technical Secretariat (TS) has provided assistance to States Parties upon request, and reports that 106 Parties have now received Article VII assistance of some kind. The TS has also provided us with detailed reporting on the status of implementation in each State Party. The Technical Secretariat should be commended for its efforts, as should those States Parties that have requested assistance.

Individual States Parties also have provided assistance in the past two years, bilaterally, in small groups, and in conjunction with the Technical Secretariat. In the past two years, the United States and the government of Romania have developed and distributed an Implementation Assistance Programme, or I-A-P to more than 100 States Parties. The IAP is a tool designed for States Parties to help establish a National Authority and enact administrative measures pursuant to fulfilling Article VI requirements. Last week, we distributed an updated version, and will soon be providing foreign-language versions as well. We also have participated in bilateral, expert-level assistance visits to over a dozen African, Asian, and Latin American States Parties We are not alone. Many States Parties have engaged in similar efforts. For example, France and Portugal have both hosted conferences for Francophone and Lusophone States Parties, respectively, to assist in drafting legislation. Spain also has traveled with the Technical Secretariat to central and South America.

Ultimately, however, the key to fulfillment of the Review Conference’s objectives is that each State Party must take action to remedy shortcomings in its own Article VII implementation to ensure it is in compliance.

The United States is encouraged by the notable improvement in the number of States Parties now addressing national implementation shortfalls. While we recognize that States Parties acceding after 2003 may need more time to become fully compliant, it is evident that most other States Parties have taken action. For example: 

  • Since March 2003, twenty States Parties have designated or established a National Authority. 

  • Twenty States Parties have submitted information to the Technical Secretariat on the legislation and administrative measures they have adopted to implement the Convention. 

  • Eighteen States Parties enacted legislation covering all key areas in the analysis of the Technical Secretariat. 

  • Furthermore, twenty-six percent of the States Parties that have yet to adopt legislation and administrative measures have prepared draft legislation and are currently at various stages of enacting it.

Clearly, momentum for national implementation has been building, and results are being achieved.

These statistics are signs of progress, but they also make clear that we are still far from the finish line. We cannot celebrate the conclusion of our implementation efforts at this session of the Conference, but neither can we simply give up. Instead, we must decide on further, concrete steps to achieve full and universal compliance with Article VII obligations. It is proper to take a moment to acknowledge the hard work that has brought the aforementioned successes, but we also must take decisive action to finish the job. True success cannot be measured by improved trends in Article VII compliance, but rather one hundred percent compliance with Article VII by all States Parties.

It is encouraging that approximately one quarter of States Parties without legislation are in various stages of enacting draft legislation. But it is unacceptable that seventeen States Parties that signed the treaty over two years ago have yet to even establish a National Authority, which is the most basic Article VII obligation. It is just as unacceptable that twenty-one States Parties have not drafted legislation and submitted it to their legislative bodies for approval.

This Conference should address both the States Parties that are making good faith efforts to meet their requirements, and those that have not taken their commitments seriously. We must also recognize that States Parties acceding after 2003 may need more time to become fully compliant. Our objective should be to ensure that all these States Parties come into full compliance in the shortest possible time. These different groups pose different challenges, and different measures are called for with respect to each group. The Conference should differentiate between those who have been working to finalize legislation and administrative measures, and those who have done little or nothing.

Let me be clear. This Conference should strive to provide both appropriate support, and the necessary impetus for all States Parties to meet their binding obligations. This benefits all of us –by ensuring equitable implementation of core treaty requirements, and by closing the gaps in our security.

Mr. Chairman, fellow Delegates,

The Chemical Weapons Convention is a union of obligation and incentive. In joining the Convention, States Parties commit to meeting their implementation requirements. In return, States Parties avail themselves of certain benefits available only to States Parties. Examples include less restricted trade in Scheduled chemicals, powerful mechanisms to address potential CW-related security concerns, transparency and nonproliferation assurance with respect to both chemical weapons and relevant industrial facilities, and the vital security assurances provided in Article X of the Convention.

The most fundamental benefit of this treaty -- though certainly not the only benefit -- is increased international security, something that benefits every State Party. But that benefit can only be fully achieved by universal compliance with Article VII. For example, many States Parties have a sizable chemical industry that engages in production, processing or consumption of Scheduled chemicals. Other States Parties without a large indigenous production capability trade in Scheduled chemicals and are potential transshipment points through which Scheduled chemicals pass between destinations. Domestic laws in each State Party must codify CWC restrictions and prohibitions to mitigate the risk of these chemicals being used for illicit purposes.

Therefore, it is critical that the Conference take a decision on how to ensure universal compliance with the Convention. It is critical that this decision contain not only positive measures of assistance, but clear standards: timelines, milestones, and consequences where those are warranted. We, also, need to consider whether states that do not act to meet their commitments should receive all the benefits outlined in the Convention.

The issue before us is not an administrative matter. It is a security matter, and a matter of treaty compliance. The credibility of this Convention is on the line. Adoption of a balanced decision on Article VII compliance is critical to maintaining a viable, relevant Organization.

Thank you.



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