News on the CWC

Here is a list of some of the news media reports on the CWC Second RevCon so far.

OPCW has also posted a list of media reports on the 2nd RevCon.

In other news… Despite the fact there has not be much talk about the RevCon in the U.S. as far as I have seen, Paul Walker of Global Green USA mentioned today that Director General Pfirter had a very full and productive few days in Washington. In addition to the very candid public comments he made on April 1, Pfirter was also able to meet with several U.S. officials while he was there.

Round-up of Day 1

The conference is off to a good start. The opening business is complete and national statements begun, so far without too much drama. However, the U.S. statement will begin the day tomorrow, so we will see how that is recieved. The first few statements have generally put CW stockpile destruction on the top of the list of important issues for the conference to address. The representatives from South Africa and Cuba certainly highlighted CW destruction as one of the pillars of the CWC and that commitment to it must remain firm for the convention to remain strong. All of the speakers so far have urged all possesor countries to do whatever they can to meet the 2012 deadline. What remains to be seen are how the U.S. comments handle this issue.

Director General Pfirter, the first individual to address the conference immediately tackled CW destruction with the suggestion that this review conference not discuss it extensively. He remained optimistic that significant progress would be made in the next 4 years, and that if necessary, a special conference of the states parties be called to examine the issue. It is likely that despite the Director Generals suggestion, the 2012 deadline will be continually brought up as a fundamental issue for the conference.

In his address, the representative from South Africa, speaking for the African group of states parties, also put significant emphasis on the international assistance programs and the exchange of scientific and technical information and equipment under Article XI. Both the African group and Cuba, speaking for the Non-aligned movement of states parties to the convention and China (NAM), pointed out an imbalance of personnel employed at OPCW and called for a transparent, fair and geographically disperse recruiting strategy for staff to fill professional level positions.

On the topic of CWC universality, so far everyone seems eager to work with the states who remain outside of the convention so that they may become part of it. The representative from Slovenia speaking for the EU especially highlighted EU commitment to the CWC and their work on universality. She also affirmed their commitment to intensify this work and the suggestion that in the future efforts will need to be specifically tailored to each state that remains outside the convention. Director General Pfirter also addressed the issue of universality, and expressed his disappointment that several countries still resist the CWC. He instisted that despite the fact that the nations in the Middle East use the unstable situation there as a reason not to join the CWC, this is no excuse. It is his assertion that even in an unstable situation it is still possible, and even desirable, for them to stand with the rest of the world and renounce the scourge of chemical weapons. There is hope that progress currently being made with Iraq and Lebanon will further CWC adoption not only in the Middle East, but in all of the remaining nations.

As soon as the papers and statements are available online I will post links to them. So far only the message from the Secretary-General of the United Nations is listed on the OPCW website.

The provisional programme for the Open Forum on Wednesday is also now available.

Day 1…

I managed to link up with a few other NGO folks here this morning. The Harvard Sussex program was here actively handing out copies of their Resource Guide to the Second Review Conference and Richard Guthrie was also distributing copies of his report released earlier today (see below). After a lunch break at OPCW headquarters down the block, we were ready for the RevCon to finally begin.
The meeting was called to order at 3:10pm and procedural matters began immediately. The Ambassador from Saudi Arabia was elected chairman of the Conference, the agenda was adopted and other elections were completed. The most important event that occurred was that the attendance of all of the NGOs was approved. We were all quite happy and to make it official, real plaquards identifying our organization names were distributed to put up on our desks. Photos of this will likely follow in upcoming posts.
Daniel Feakes has been posting somewhat of the play-by play of events over on his site, but I’ll just try and give a few highlights right now. Very soon statements should be available on the OPCW website, since written copies are being handed out as they are being delivered.
We first heard from Director General Pfirter, followed by a statement of support from Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon (delivered by Tim Caughley, Deputy General of the Conference on Disarmament). Next statements were given by representatives from the European Union, the Netherlands, Cuba, South Africa and Kyrgyzstan. The best moment of the meeting thus far was Netherlands Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen quoting hockey player Wayne Gretzky who once said that “a good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” The OPCW needs to keep this in mind during discussions over the next 2 weeks.
Now its time to head off to the OPCW for a reception hosted by Ambassador Pfirter.

Just a few more hours

Things are getting underway here in The Hague. The conference begins at 3pm and delagates are beginning to gather here at the World Forum Conference Center.

Richard Guthrie is here, supported by the Ploughshares Fund and writing daily reports from the Conference as well. He has just released his first report on the run-up to the conference. More information can be found at his CBW Events site as well as Daniel Feakes’ CWC 2008 blog. There should be no shortage of information available on the RevCon!