June Issue of Chemical Disarmament Quarterly Focuses on Second Review Conference

The June issue of the OPCW publication Chemical Disarmament Quarterly is now available. Its main focus is on the Second Review Conference of the CWC which took place April 7-18 in the Hague.

This issue contains the opening statement by Director General Pfirter and the opening message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. It also includes the perspectives on the Conference and its progress by Conference Chairperson Ambassador Waleed Ben Abdel Karim El Khereiji of Saudi Arabia, Open-Ended Working Group Chair Ambassador Lyn Parker of the United Kingdom, Ambassador Eric M. Javits of the United States, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and China representatives Ambassador Oscar de los Reyes Ramos and Justo A. Quintero Mendez of Cuba and the Mission of South Africa on behalf of the Group of African States Parties. Several of the perspectives mention the difficulty in reaching agreements on the content and wording of the review conference final document. However, it was also noted that despite the painstaking process, commitment to the CWC, its fundamental principles, and the will to continue international cooperation for the future of the CWC all remained strong.

Also featured in this issue are perspectives from the NGO and industry communities. There is a short article by Daniel Feakes of the Harvard-Sussex Program and Richard Guthrie from CBW Events which in addition to their take on the RevCon, discusses the role of NGOs in the CWC. This year the RevCon was more ‘NGO-friendly’ than in the past, though more participation will be beneficial in the future. Niel Harvey who represented the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) and the European Council for the Chemicals Industry (CEFIC) at the RevCon authored an article that brings up of some of the issues of the CWC/OPCW communicating with and engaging the industry community. After encouraging industry participation in the drafting of the CWC, the OPCW needs to continue to work with industry officials. Chemical production facilities are subject to OPCW inspections under the CWC and as national CW stockpiles are diminished, industry will be the focus of the CWC.

OPCW Open Forum Summary

The OPCW has provided on its website a summary of the Second Review Conference Open Forum “The Chemical Weapons Convention – recent experience and future prospects.”

The Open Forum took place on April 9, 2008 at OPCW Headquarters during the Second Review Conference of the CWC. It provided an opportunity for NGO, industry, and academic representatives to address the CWC members. The full presentations from the Forum are also available.

I also attended the Open Forum and posted a report on it on April 10.

Dando Article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

This week the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published an article by Malcolm Dando called “Missed opportunities at the chemical weapons treaty meeting”. Dando discusses the contentious that has arisen becasue the CWC bans all chemical weapons, but exempts those used for “law enforcement, including domestic riot control purposes.”

For further discussion of incapacitating agents and the CWC check out the Bulletin’s Roundtable Forum, which I highlighted earlier this week. Also, Oliver Meier’s article in Arms Control Today talks about the “hidden debate” of incapacitating agents that took place at last months Review Conference.

May issue of Arms Control Today

The May issue of Arms Control Today is out. It contains an excellent article by Oliver Meier called CWC Review Conference Avoids Difficult Issues”.

Oliver highlights some of the difficulties in adopting final text for the declaration. He also brings up the relatively soft emphasis on CW destruction and makes the point that this was complicated by a fundamental debate between developed and developing nations about whether the CWC should be seen as a disarmament treaty or a nonproliferation treaty. Finally Oliver discusses the “hidden debate about incapacitants”. This issue was not specifically on the agenda, nor did it show up in the final declaration; but it did receive considerable debate during the Conference.

Highlights from March issue of “Arms Control Today”

The March 2008 issue of Arms Control Today featured several pieces on the Chemical Weapons Convention and the upcoming Second Review Conference.

This month’s articles feature a number of important topics on the agenda at the review conference. There is Daniel Feakes’ article “Getting Down to the Hard Cases: Prospects for CWC Universality” and Ralf Trapp’s “Advances in Science and Technology and the Chemical Weapons Convention” which each focus on specific conference agenda issues. John Hart revisits the problems of old stockpiles in “Looking Back: The Continuing Legacy of Old and Abandoned Chemical Weapons” and Oliver Meier’s news analysis “Chemical Weapons Parlay’s Outcome Uncertain” covers the remaining issues of destruction, verification and non-lethal agents.

Arms Control Today has also published a Reader on the CWC Second Review Conference which contains some of the above articles as well as others on topics of importance for the RevCon.