Statement to the United Nations High Level Meeting of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
UNITED NATIONS HIGH LEVEL MEETING OF THE ORGANISATION FOR THE PROHIBITION OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS
“Fifteen years of the Chemical Weapons Convention: Celebrating success. Committing to the future”
1 October 2012
Statement by the Hon Laurie Ferguson,
Member of Parliament of Australia
I would like to take this opportunity to thank both Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcu, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and Secretary-General, HE Ban Ki-moon, for their genuine and steadfast commitment to ensuring that the Chemical Weapons Convention remains an effective security regime that ensures these heinous weapons are destroyed and never used.
Australia is strongly committed to this enduring priority. We unreservedly join with other countries that have condemned today the possible use of chemical weapons by anyone, including by States not yet party to the Convention.
Ladies and gentlemen, today I will focus Australia’s comments on three issues: universality, full and effective implementation of the convention and emerging challenges.
The achievements of the Chemical Weapons Convention are outstanding. It bans an entire category of weapons of mass destruction and its current membership of 188 States Parties means that the ban has become an international norm. But it is not yet universal, and we must continue to work towards universality. We strongly urge each of the eight States that are not yet party to join the Convention.
Australia is doing its part in encouraging the small number of remaining States to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. Australia reinforced this commitment to Ambassador Üzümcü during his visit in July 2012 and we stand ready to support those countries in doing whatever it takes to help them achieve this goal.
Joining the Convention is just the first step. Full and effective implementation of the Convention is equally crucial. Notably, 75% of the world’s declared chemical weapons stockpiles have already been destroyed. This work has made a significant contribution to global disarmament – although not without great cost and effort – and is an achievement of which the OPCW and States Parties can be very proud.
But we must continue to strive to ensure that all parties enact robust domestic legislation and establish strong national authorities. National Authorities, Customs authorities and other agencies all contribute to ensuring that declarations and OPCW inspections – performed under the CWC’s verification regime – build confidence internationally that new chemical weapons are not being developed.
Full and effective implementation also involves cooperation with the chemical industry. From Australia’s perspective, this has been another good news story of the Convention. We will continue to foster a spirit of collaboration and trust between Government and industry in acknowledgment of the chemical industry’s role in supporting the Convention, including through ensuring that chemicals are not diverted for non-peaceful purposes.
Third, States should be collectively considering how the Convention can evolve and remain relevant. As one of the countries that contributed to bringing forward the final text of the Convention in 1994, Australia also believes we must remain vigilant by ensuring that the Convention and the OPCW continue to play a strong role in the prevention of re-emergence of chemical weapons and can respond to emerging challenges and global priorities including advances in science and technology.
We warmly welcome the Supplementary Agreement recently concluded between the OPCW and the UN Secretary General whereby, in the case of alleged use of chemical weapons by a State not Party to the Convention, if requested, the OPCW’s resources can be called upon by UNSG. Australia looks forward to the 3rd Review Conference on the Operation of the Convention in April 2013 where States will decide collectively how the OPCW can respond to emerging challenges.
Australia is committed to ensuring the continued success of the OPCW beyond the destruction of all chemical weapons, so that it can work with States Parties to meet the non-proliferation challenges of today and tomorrow, and chemical weapons will never be used again.