The 80th session of the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was held in The Hague on 6 October 2015. On this occasion, Mr. Ambassador Pierre-Louis Lorenz (Luxembourg) gave a statement on behalf of the European Union, in which the main European positions vis-à-vis the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the OPCW were recalled.
On the issue of chemical weapons in Syria, while there is mounting evidence that chemicals continue to be used as weapons of war as stated by the reports of the Fact Finding Mission (FFM), the EU welcomes UNSC Resolution 2209 condemning the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon in Syria. According to the statement, “chlorine has been dropped from helicopters, an asset that only the Syrian government possesses.” Besides, the EU expresses its concern about the “insufficient information provided by the Syrian government” regarding many outstanding issues, such as the lack of original documentation, undeclared R&D facilities, questions about a ricin programme, etc. Whereas Syria acceded to the CWC in October 2013, many concerns remain which could undermine the authority of the chemical prohibition norm. According to the EU, “it is time for the Syrian Arab Republic to face its responsibilities”, including its financial responsibilities.
As regard to the EU support to the OPCW, it is worth noting that the EU Council Decision 2015/259/CFSP for the years 2015-2017, which was adopted on 17 February 2015, made available to the OPCW some 2.5 million EUR to support various activities such as promoting universality, national implementation, international cooperation, the Africa Programme and implementing lessons learned from the Syrian operation. This Council Decision was the sixth voluntary contribution of the EU to OPCW activities since 2005. Besides, the EU has continued supporting the OPCW for the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons programme during the first half of 2015. It did so by extending the validity of the Decision to contribute from the IcSP 12 million EUR to the OPCW Trust Fund.
The future of the OPCW was also raised by the EU, stating that the EU and its Member States have started a reflection to discern the post-CW destruction stage. According to the latest progress report on the implementation of the 2003 EU Strategy, the future relevancy of the CWC is deeply linked with the re-emergence of chemical weapons, chemical use by non-state actors and terrorists, and convergence with biology, inter alia. The EU statement to the Executive council adds the importance of an adequate verification regime, “including investigations of alleged use and challenge inspections”.
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