OPCW Updates

First of all, the Open Forum website has been updated to include the presentations of all of the speakers as well as pertinent position papers and statements.

Second, the OPCW prepared a press release to announce the official Second Review Conference Report. It gives bullet point highlights of the report and quotes Director-General Pfirter:

“Although the discussions were difficult and protracted at times, the final document of the Conference is comprehensive and reaffirms the strong commitment among all States Parties to achieve universality, complete the destruction of chemical weapons, further strengthen verification measures to ensure non-proliferation, provide assistance and protection, and promote the uses of chemistry for peaceful purposes.”

Draft Conference Report

Once again, many thanks to Richard Guthrie. He stuck around the RevCon after the rest of us NGO representatives left. And even though the meetings were closed, still provided the rest of us with updates on the RevCon’s progress. Its a good thing too, because otherwise we would have no information on the second week of the conference. The OPCW website has posted a few national papers, but does not list any information on the RevCon’s late-night closing or give any indication of when the conference declaration will be released.

Today Richard continues to keep us informed, sending out yet another email update and posting this announcement to his website:

“There appears to be a delay in producing the official version of the final declaration of the CWC Review Conference. As of the morning of 23 April, UK time, it has not appeared on the OPCW’s Second Review Conference website.

Having received many e-mails asking if I could post the copy of the declaration that was circulated to the Conference in the early hours of Saturday morning, it is with some hesitation I am now posting the two sections of the declaration as given below. I hesitate because there may be some changes that will have to agreed to the texts, notwithstanding that these were the texts legally adopted.

The first document (0.5MB) contains the preambular text agreed at 2am on 19 April (not 18 April as printed on the draft) and adopted by the Conference later in the morning. The paragraphs will need renumbering owing to the edits.

The second document (2.6MB) contains the main section of the declaration adopted by the Conference. The paragraphs will need to be renumbered as the preamble may be considered to have an extra paragraph, the paragraph numbers 35, 36 and 37 are repeated, and the number 67 is not used. These are simply consequences of the rapid production of the draft declaration at such a late hour.”

Report on the Conclusion to the Review Conference

Richard Guthrie has released his final report “The Final Day (and a half): Closure of the Conference.” In it he provides some detail of the struggles of the final hours of the RevCon to reach consensus. He also begins the discussion (which will undoubtedly be the subject of many papers written in the coming months) of what happened to derail the RevCon, what it means for future meetings regarding the CWC, and how the OPCW is changing as CW stockpiles are destroyed and its mandate shifts. The conference was meticulously planned, began with great optimism, but ended with disagreement, all night sessions, and weakened statements.

Hopefully the text of the declaration will be released later today. It will be interesting to read the official final document… and the postmortem analysis articles that will soon follow.

Closure

Here is the final email update from Richard Guthrie on the all night negotiations to finish the Second Review Conference. We’ll have to wait till Monday for his formal report to get some more of the details.

“The Committee of the Whole (CoW) convened just after 4am. After a short session which focused on some delegates’ disquiet on the process that achieved the draft final declaration, a break was taken for countries to read the text.

At 5am, the CoW resumed its examination of the text which was relatively quickly gavelled through. The CoW adopted the text just before 5.30am.

A plenary session started shortly after. Which adopted the report of the CoW at 5.43am.

Indonesia raised issues of the procedure, reading a statement that had been sent from the capital.

The plenary adopted its final report at 05.52 and closed at 06.05″

Progress

Its now past 4am in The Hague, and Richard Guthrie has managed to get out another update.

“At 2am it was announced that the side negotiations had produced a text with one outstanding paragraph unresolved.

It was not until roughly 4am that a printed version of this text was available to delegates. The Conference has just gone behind closed doors again to consider the text in a formal session of the Committee of the Whole.

It is not clear how long this phase is going to take.”

The Clock Stops at Midnight…

Well, Richard Guthrie is the only NGO representative left, and even though he’s lonely, we’re glad he’s there to update us on the late-night proceedings. Here is his latest informal email update:

“We have just had a procedural plenary to stop the clock as the mandate of
the Review Conference ends at midnight. Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia
and Thailand asked questions about when it would be that the document would
see the light of day, but no answer was forthcoming other than “soon”.

There are some outstanding issues remaining in the side negotiations,
although indications are these will be complete relatively quickly. As
those negotiations have now gone on for about 32 hours, “relatively” is a
difficult term to have some sense of.

The document will be circulated to the Committee of the Whole which will
then examine it before it is forwarded to a new plenary session.

It is a slightly peculiar experience to be sitting inside the meeting room
for the plenary, having been outside of meeting rooms for most of the last
ten days. The last plenary meeting included a long line of NGOs along the
back of the room. As the only NGO left — the line looks a little empty …”

Awwwww, I wish I was still sitting in the NGO line at the back of the room as well.

No End Yet in Sight

Richard Guthrie has sent another email update on progress in The Hague, and from the sounds of it they are in for another long night. It is already 7:30pm and much still remains to be done.

“The discussions between around 20 states to try and hammer out a final document are still continuing. Looks like it will take at least another hour or two before a document emerges, although sometimes the very end game can suddenly pick up speed.

Some states outside this “other meeting” are increasingly annoyed at the process and the total lack of transparency (nothing is coming out of the meeting — not even sections of text that have been agreed). Some simply want time to read the final document before agreeing to it, but this could take two more hours. Some are asking for group meetings to discuss it. Others have indicated that they have instructions to send the document back to capital before it can be agreed — which could add many hours.

The Technical Secretariat also will need 2-3 hours to translate the agreed document and print it in the six official languages.

All in all, it looks unlikely that the process will be over before midnight. Some are expecting it to end well into the early hours.”

Report on Day 9

It looks like things are getting pretty tense in the final hours of the Second Review Conference and there is uncertainty about whether or not they will be able to produce a consensus declaration. At this point it seems that in order to gain consensus, any declaration produced will be very weak.

Richard Guthrie provides a look at the final push of the conference in his latest report “The Penultimate Day: Running close to the wire.”

To supplement his report, Richard also sent out this informal email update:

This is an informal update and the outline provided here will be filled in with more details in the regular report when it comes out, probably on Monday. I’ll also try to produce an informal update at whatever time the conference concludes.

The discussions between around 20 states to try and hammer out a final document continue. They have now been working at it so long that the commitment to try to see this through to the end is clear. However, everything is taking longer than is expected.

There is a meeting of the Committee of the Whole pencilled in for 4.30, in order to read through the text from the “other meeting”, but it is not yet clear that the text will be ready by that time.

Most delegates are lingering around the OPCW building waiting for news, while the other meeting is happening in the Convention Centre next door.