– As delivered –
Mr. Secretary General of the United Nations,
Mr. Director-General of the OPCW,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Acceding country Croatia*, the candidate countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Serbia*, the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Andorra, Monaco and San Marino, align themselves with this statement.
I am particularly pleased to have the opportunity to address this High Level Meeting marking fifteen years of the operation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Occasions such as the one we have gathered for here today, are a valuable opportunity to pause and reflect on past accomplishments as well as on the challenges that lie ahead and what we need to do to successfully meet them.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has proven its contribution to international peace and stability. As remarked by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ms Catherine Ashton in her Statement to mark the commemoration of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention on 3 September, the OPCW “continues to be a remarkable success and an inspiring example for effective multilateralism”. For this, all stakeholders and particularly the States Parties and the Technical Secretariat deserve praise.
In the last fifteen years much has been achieved towards meeting the object and purpose of the Convention: destroying all chemical weapons in existence and preventing their re-emergence. The destruction of declared stockpiles of chemical weapons has progressed significantly as a result of which we are well underway towards a world free of chemical weapons. Whilst we are concerned that the final extended deadline for destruction of remaining stockpiles was not met, we are convinced that the Possessor States will fulfill their commitments and complete destruction in the shortest time possible. Much work has also been put into the full and effective implementation of all the provisions of the Convention including in the area of national implementation, international cooperation, assistance and protection and industry verification. The fact that there are now 188 States Parties to the Convention is also a major achievement.
Recent events force us to highlight the importance of universal adherence to the Convention. The admission by Syria on 23 July that it has a stockpile of chemical weapons engendered a wave of international condemnation and renewed calls for it to join the Convention. The European Union is seriously concerned about the presence of these weapons in Syria. Their existence shows that the threat of chemical weapons is still very real. The European Union urges Syria to act responsibly in relation to these abhorrent weapons, not to use them under any circumstances, and to keep them secure. We recall that the use of chemical weapons is prohibited by general international law and convention including the 1925 Geneva Protocol, and stress that the use of chemical weapons by Syria would be unlawful.
The European Union calls upon Syria and all other States not Party to ratify or accede to the Convention without delay. We encourage the Technical Secretariat to continue its efforts in this direction in a targeted and tailor-made manner, and reiterate the European Union’s readiness to actively contribute to this common objective.
As we look ahead to the future, the European Union believes that we need to build on progress achieved so far in destroying all declared chemical weapons and work towards ensuring that such weapons do not re-emerge. Destruction of declared stockpiles will remain a priority for the Organisation and should continue under systematic verification. At the same time, the implementation of the Convention should be adjusted to successfully meet future challenges in light of the changing security environment and developments in science and technology. The European Union strongly believes that the Third Review Conference should provide political support and broad guidance for the work to be undertaken in the intersessional period on addressing the future priorities of the OPCW.
The European Union has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to, and tangible support for, the OPCW, inter alia, through its successive financial contributions in support of OPCW activities since 2004, which amount to a total of around €9.5 million. These contributions have been used to fund activities in a variety of areas of the Convention including national implementation, universality, assistance and protection and international cooperation.
Before concluding, I would like to make particular reference to the cooperation between the UN and the OPCW, especially since we have the pleasure of meeting today in the United Nations Headquarters. The European Union greatly values the existing cooperation between the two Organisations and encourages further, close engagement between them. In this respect, we welcome the finalisation of a Supplementary Arrangement to the Relationship Agreement between the UN and the OPCW.
Whilst we mark this occasion, our thoughts naturally turn to the terrible human suffering that has resulted from the use of chemical weapons in the past. Yet the success of the OPCW in the last fifteen years is a source of inspiration and encouragement. And as we look to the future, we can build on this success in our efforts to ensure that these weapons are fully destroyed and that they are not permitted to re-emerge. I can assure you that the European Union remains fully committed to a world free of chemical weapons and will continue to work tirelessly, together with the OPCW, towards this end.
Thank you very much for your attention.
* Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.