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UK Mission to the United Nations

New York

London 18:53, 02 Jan 2013
New York 13:53, 02 Jan 2013

UK Statement at “Fifteen Years of the Chemical Weapons Convention: Celebrating Success. Committing to the Future”

01 October 2012

Delivered by UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant
UK Ambassador to the UN

Mr Chairman, Under-Secretary-General, ladies and gentlemen.  I am speaking on behalf of the British Foreign Secretary, the Right Honourable William Hague, who unfortunately cannot be here today.  I warmly welcome His Excellency Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, the Director General of the Organisation for the Prohibition for Chemical Weapons, to this 67th session of the UN General Assembly.

The United Kingdom is deeply committed to the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and attaches great importance to the role of the OPCW.  As the first treaty to provide for verifiable elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction, the Chemical Weapons Convention, with the support of the OPCW it has achieved a great deal over the past 15 years.

By August 2012, 75% of the world's declared stockpile of chemical weapons agent had been verifiably destroyed.  We welcome the progress made by possessor states to destroy their declared stockpiles. This means that we are on the road towards a world free of chemical weapons.  But we cannot be complacent: significant threats remain, and the Convention does not yet have universal reach.

One of the many successful achievements of the Convention relates to the number of States Parties: 188 to date. The UK reiterates our call to Angola, Burma, DPRK, Egypt, Israel, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria to join the Convention immediately.

Without universal membership, we can never eliminate the potential threat of chemical weapons proliferation.  As we see with Syria, real threats remain.  We recall that the use of chemical weapons is prohibited by general international law and by treaties including the 1925 Protocol. The use of chemical weapons by Syria therefore would be unlawful even though they are not a State Party to the Convention.

Mr Chairman,

We encourage all efforts to promote the Convention and its aims.  Our objective must be a universal ban on chemical weapons. Implementation of the Convention in full is vital. It is a concern that a considerable number of States Parties have still been unable to adopt and implement the necessary legislative and administrative measures to implement the convention 15 years after it entered into force.   The advancement of the global chemical industry requires more effective national implementation to prohibit the illegal use of toxic chemicals, and enable the safe transfer of chemicals for purposes not prohibited under the Convention. We call on all States Parties and the Technical Secretariat to work in a collaborative way to improve implementation around the world.

We must use the opportunity presented by next year’s Third CWC Review Conference to consider the evolution in the roles and functions of the OPCW necessary in light of accelerated scientific, technological, industrial, commercial, and political developments.  We must also use the Conference to consider future challenges for destruction of remaining chemical weapons and to ensure that we prevent their re-emergence.  Verification of destruction of chemical weapons will remain a priority, but we must also address how the OPCW can best meet modern day challenges, including industry verification and changes in science and technology.

Mr Chairman,

The achievements of the OPCW over the past fifteen years are enormous and absolutely worth celebrating.  We now need to build on what has already been achieved.  The United Kingdom stands ready, as always, to continue the drive with Director General Üzümcü, the OPCW and States Parties to realise the object and purpose of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

I thank you.

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