EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Conference 2016 Special Session 9
Chair: Tariq Rauf, Director, Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Programme, SIPRI 
Ali Gebril Werfeli, Permanent Representative of Libya, OPCW 
Veronika Stromsikova, Director, Office of Strategy and Policy, OPCW 
Ralf Trapp, International Disarmament Consultant

Provisional transcript.

Tariq Rauf, Director, Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Programme, SIPRI

This is the simultaneous special session number nine, ‘Progress and Challenges in Chemical Disarmament.’ And I am very pleased to introduced to you a very distinguished panel. We have three speakers. First will be Ambassador Ali Gebril Werfeli, who is the Permanent Representative of Libya, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague. He will then be followed by a representative from the OPCW, Ms Veronica Stromsikova. She is the Director of the Office of Strategy and Policy at the OPCW. And then third but not least is Dr Ralf Trapp; he is an International Disarmament Consultant who has been working on chemical weapons issues for several decades.

Our first speaker will be Dr Ali. He will be talking about the Libyan case. If you recall that in December 2003, Libya reached an agreement which was negotiated with the United Kingdom and the United States to renounce its weapons of mass destruction programmes. At that time, I was at the IAEA, and I was involved with the dismantlement of the then-Libyan nuclear programme, and Dr Ali has been involved since in eliminating Libya’s chemical weapons and the chemicals that were there. And with regards to the OPCW, as you know, the Chemical Weapons Convention was opened for signature in 1993, and came into force in 1997. Normally, when I speak on nuclear issues, I say that the NPT is the most widely adhered to international arms control and disarmament agreement, but the CWC has exactly the same membership: only four countries remain outside the CWC.

Ms Stromsikova will talk about the role of the OPCW in preventing access by non-state actors to chemical weapons agents, and hopefully Dr Ralf Trapp, in addition to his comments generically on chemical weapons disarmament, might be able to offer us some insight from the experience of India, Iraq, Syria and ROK, which were among those countries that declared themselves as possessors of chemical weapons when they acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Ali, the floor is yours.

Ali Gebril Werfeli, Permanent Representative of Libya, OPCW

Thank you. Good morning, everybody. I cannot see anybody from the EU Non-Proliferation Consortium here, but I should like to thank the EU Consortium for this kind invitation, and I will take this opportunity and try to brief you today on Libya’s experience and efforts for the disposal and non-proliferation of chemical weapons.

As you may know, you know that the Libyan chemical weapons dossier has been the focus of attention and a source of deep concern at the national and indeed at the regional and international levels, and this has been a looming issue, posing a threat to security and safety all over the region for many years. This Libyan chemical dossier has been tackled successfully. It is now reached its final stage, and is well on track to being closed, with no security or safety incidents. I will not go into all the details of all stages of this dossier, but I will try to give you the short version of the story, and I will give you a quick overview of the final phase of the overall programme for the destruction of the Libyan stockpile.

No sooner Libya had successfully completed the disposal of its category 1 of chemical weapons in May 2014, than it started focusing on the issue of chemical precursors, which are category 2 chemicals, as per the schedules of the Convention. These schedules are indeed dual-use chemicals, and are required to be destroyed. Libya was able to achieve important milestones in the destruction or disposal of certain types of chemical precursors. However, circumstances surrounding the programme for the disposal, such as the lack of a suitable technology for destruction, in addition to the extraordinary security situations that are prevailing in Libya, have loomed large over the implementation of the disposal programme and presented tough challenges on the way to progress in the programme, and its completion within the specified deadlines.

Committed to taking precautionary measures to avoid any undesirable consequences, especially in case its chemical stockpile comes to fall in part or entirely into the hands of non-state actors, Libya has taken the decision to request the assistance of the international community. Indeed, it was extremely important for Libya to act in a prompt and proactive manner to prevent the occurrence of such a scenario and its potential consequences. The international community has responded favourably, in a Resolution by the United Nations Security Council calling for a joint international partnership to provide Libya with logistical support and technical assistance for the disposal of its remaining stock precursors. The Resolution authorises the transfer of the said remaining stockpile and its removal by sea outside Libya for disposal.

Against this backdrop, on 27 August 2016, some 500 tonnes of chemical precursors were loaded and removed outside Libya in accordance with the relevant plan. On 6 September, the precursors arrived in Bremen Harbour in Germany, on board a designated Danish ship. The precursors were then transported to a disposal facility in the city of Munster. This complex and difficult removal operation may therefore be considered as a crowning success of the efforts made in the implementation of the overall programme for the disposal of the Libyan chemical stockpile, thus bringing us nearer to closing this dossier once and for all.

And here are some of the factors that were key, at least in my opinion, for the success of the precursors removal, and lessons learned from that operation. First key factor, its early warning. This is early warning about potential threats. That is what Libya actually did. When at the end of last year, and extremist group staged an attack against a security checkpoint a few dozen kilometres from the storage site, followed in May 2016 by another attack a few kilometres away, Libya sounded the alarm and brought the attention of the state parties to the Convention and the OPCW to the threats looming over the chemical stockpile.

Second factor, the rapid response. The rapid response by the OPCW and some state parties to Libya’s request for assistance and the disposal of its remaining chemical weapons in light of the extraordinary circumstances in the country.

Third, the removal operation was conducted in line with what Libya envisaged to be the best, safest and least costly option, rather than of the big solutions. This was achieved with the support and material, logistical and technical assistance of state parties to the Convention, namely Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, based on the principle of partnership between all parties concerned.

The fourth factor is the multilateral approach. This success has been made possible through the close coordination and direct supervision by the OPCW, within the mandate of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Finally, and to the best of my knowledge – and I have been serving for seven consecutive years in my capacity as Libya’s Permanent Representative to OPCW – the removal of chemical precursors outside Libya is the first operation of its kind conducted by the OPCW. The first operation that serves directly one of the objectives of the Convention, namely, non-proliferation. This is also the first time that some serious work is done to tackle an issue concerning threats posed by non-state actors.

Veronika Stromsikova, Director, Office of Strategy and Policy, OPCW

Thank you very much. So, as Tariq has already outlined, the focus of my presentation will be threats posed by non-state actors, including terrorists, when it comes to chemical weapons.

Let me start by saying that, nearly 20 years ago, when the Chemical Weapons Convention was adopted and the OPCW came into existence, the global security environment and even chemical commerce was vastly different from today. For instance, economic integration has brought about increased production and trade in toxic chemicals, including in regions that barely had any chemical industry not so long ago. Rapid science and technology advancements have obscured, at times, whether toxic substances should be governed by the chemical or indeed biological regime, or both. But also, as the chemical weapons regime has made rapid progress toward universality and elimination of the chemical stockpiles declared by possessor states, new challenges have arisen. One of the most important is the emergence of non-state actors, including terrorists, using chemical weapons.

The foundation for addressing this challenge lies, in my view, in understanding first the strength of the existing regime. The first 20 years of implementing the CWC have yielded tangible and measurable results not only in disarmament but also in preventing the use of chemical weapons, including by non-state actors and terrorists. Let us walk through the specifics briefly.

Today, the CWC is in a way the most successful disarmament treaty, as it eliminates an entire class of weapons of mass destruction. One way to measure the progress of the CWC regime is to assess how wide the coverage is. Today, we can claim to have nearly universal membership, with 192 states parties. Only four countries that are members of the United Nations have so far not joined, that is the DPRK, Egypt, South Sudan and Israel, who is a signatory state.

These four countries, at the same time, matter deeply for the future of the regime. Until they join the CWC, and make their initial declarations, none of us can know the full scope of global chemical weapon stockpiles and what work remains in verifiably eliminating them.

Another measurement of progress is the 93 per cent of chemical weapons declared by current states parties that have been destroyed under OPCW verification. This means that 72,000 metric tonnes of chemical weapons are no longer available to be used against anyone and are no longer vulnerable to falling into terrorist hands. This is an undeniable achievement.

OPCW verification of the destruction of chemical weapons has occurred for the most part within the usual context, carried out by possessor states within their own territories. However, over the past three years, the OPCW has also demonstrated its adaptability and agility in evolving to current-day challenges. This is illustrated by the operations in Syria and Libya. From these endeavours, none of the 1,300 tonnes of chemical agents from Syria or the 500 tonnes of precursors from Libya removed from those territories for destruction elsewhere can ever be used again as chemical weapons.

The Convention is a complex legal instrument that covers not only the weaponised, military dimension of toxic chemicals, but also their industrial production, which is normally used for perfectly peaceful purposes, but it can also be turned into lethal weaponry. Here again, the elaborate system of declarations and verification in industrial plants producing such toxic chemicals that could be particularly prone to misuse, must be appreciated as a substantial contribution in the area of preventing chemical terrorism. And yet, as we see notably in the Middle East, chemical weapons are by no means weapons of the past. They are the least technologically demanding weapons of mass destruction, as opposed notably to nuclear weapons.

Now, how can the CWC respond to this? While the CWC was not purposely designed as an anti-terrorism convention, and the word terrorism does not even appear in the text, the Convention’s prohibitions are comprehensive. Beyond prohibiting the use, development, production, storage and transport of chemical weapons, the Convention applies to all natural and legal persons, whether they act in the name of a state or non-state entity. Article 7 of the CWC, which addresses national implementation measures, is also explicit in requesting states parties to enact penal legislation with respect to prohibited activities by natural or legal persons. Therefore, countries doing their part to adopt the necessary measures for implementing the CWC at the domestic level, will find they are also tackling non-state actor activities.

This pragmatic prescription comes with one problem that yet remains to be tackled. Approximately 70 states parties to the CWC – which is about 36 per cent -- have not yet fully adopted the national legislation which is required to properly implement the Convention. The OPCW does all it can, through its international cooperation programmes, to redress this situation; we offer model legislation, assistance with legal drafting, etc. But still one third of states parties, leaving themselves without the tools to address the non-state actor challenge when the threat is real, is a situation that should be redressed quickly.

Proper implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and good national legislation go a long way, but certainly they do not suffice to brace ourselves against the threats of chemical terrorism. Enhancing chemical security belongs to areas where a number of practical measures should be pursued, starting from better assessment of security risks, establishing strong security cultures, to sharing best practice and building capacity for both prevention and response to chemical emergencies. When discussing chemical security with industry representatives, with whom we meet frequently, it is notably the transport of chemicals and online purchases that are considered by them to be areas of largest risk.

Lastly, we cannot rely solely on prevention and legal deterrents. Response mechanisms must also be developed and maintained, should the worst occur. The OPCW has been running activities on protection and response for many years. And the more we work in the area, the more it is clear that these are only meaningful when they are tailor-made to particular needs of states parties, because the requirements in different regions are strikingly different;

Most recently, the OPCW has been developing a new resource to assist states parties that come under chemical attack. We call it the Rapid Response Assistance Mission. And it is basically a ready-to-go team composed of different experts that could be dispatched within several hours to a requesting state, to assist them with the aftermath response in the field.

Now, also at the inter-agency level, we try to work under the umbrella of the UN Counter Terrorism Task Force, the UNCTITF, where we aim to exercise the capacities of different international organisations such as the OPCW, WHO, Interpol, OCHA, and a number of others, to communicate and coordinate with each other in case of a chemical or as well a biological incident. While frequently the relations between the different international organisations tend to be competitive rather than cooperative, I have to say that we have so far been quite heartened by the level of engagement of the participating organisations to work with the OPCW on this exercise, and by their willingness to identify gaps and improve collective preparedness.

To conclude, there is no doubt that the CWC has demonstrated its effectiveness and adaptability over the past two decades. Yet in a world marked by a changing international order, globalisation, advances in technology and science, states parties and other stakeholders must keep pace to ensure full implementation of the Convention. And the OPCW must therefore continue to prepare itself for the challenge in front of us as we focus more on preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons that will be essential for achieving a world permanently free of chemical weapons.

Ralf Trapp, International Disarmament Consultant

Thank you and good morning, everyone. The title of this session was about progress and challenges to the Chemical Weapons Convention, and to the ban on or the prohibition of chemical weapons. This is 19 years after the Convention entered into force, and 24 years after the negotiations of the Treaty were completed, so I thought I would do what physical scientists, natural scientists, tend to do, and make a spreadsheet for myself, and see whether I can come up with a little bit of a balance statement of the objectives as we understood them at the time the Treaty was negotiated, and also, how do some of the assumptions, the design principles we built into the Treaty actually apply today? Do they still apply? Do we have things that we need to think about, adaptions about change, about requirements as they come from a world that has changed around us? And a lot of it has already been alluded to by Veronika. Yes, we have a comprehensive ban on chemical weapons, which is nearly universal; that has already been mentioned beforehand. But there are some gaps; some of those gaps actually do matter, and we need to start thinking much more I think specifically about how we can address those very few countries that are still outside, but they are all causing very specific problems and issues, and they are important for the regime and they are important for the norm. At least three of them are in the past or the present associated with chemical weapons programmes, possession of these weapons, and also, they are all in particular regional situations and contexts, which need to be understood well to see that chemical weapons disarmament as it comes down to these nitty-gritty bits is not just an issue in its own right; it is something that relates to a broader regional and political and security agenda that we need to think about if we want to address these remaining countries, and I do not need to mention which countries they are.

We have made significant progress in the elimination of chemical weapons stockpiles, but again, what we have seen I think in the implementation process is that there are rules and there are ways of applying the rules and adapting them to the real world and making sure that we can actually meet the objectives of the Convention in ways that meet both our security concerns and the concerns related to things like the economy, environmental safety, population safety and things like that.

We set out to set up an effective and adaptable verification system, and it is working. This is my first little question mark that I would like to pose. Actually, the destruction already was one, but verification in the chemical industry I think is going to be an issue in the long run that we need to think much harder about. We still use the same schedules that we had 24 years ago. Now, to anybody who comes from an industry or chemistry background, that does not make any sense whatsoever. The world does change, and so do requirements in the way we do verification. But we have not been able to adapt the system as yet, and the same applies to the part of the destruction of chemical weapons. We have been talking a lot about it, and in fact, the Convention was built on the assumption that there would be a comprehensive review and adaptation at the first review conference. That has not happened. What has happened is tweaking the system and bits and pieces here and there, but we need to think, is that enough and will it be enough in the future?

Another issue that I wanted to flag up is, one of the objectives we had on the Convention, and everybody who was there remembers the time we spent on negotiating things to do with Article 9. We were looking for an effective and robust and reliable compliance-management system. Well, yes, we had compliance issues, but we have largely dealt with those compliance issues on a bilateral basis, or we have not dealt with them, and really, the observation was only forced in the context of more recent developments around Syria and others, that we needed to try and come to grips with, how does the organisation tackle these issues in the Executive Council, in the Conference of States Parties, how do we actually on the one hand, address really difficult political and compliance issues, and at the same time ensure that we still have a coherent and consistent approach within the organisation, that we have political unity behind the objectives that are raised by the Convention? And what I am suggesting is that, I think we have gone through a phase in the organisation where we have, rather than using the mechanisms that the Treaty provides, we have invented, we have been innovative, which I think is a good thing to do. We have come up with mechanisms – or the Director General really has come up with mechanisms – such as the Fact-Finding Mission, which you will not find anywhere in the Convention, which was an adaptation to the specifics of the situation and the context in Syria and the ongoing conflict there. We have come up with mechanisms such as the DAT, the Declaration Assessment Team. That is all very well, but I think in the long term, we need to think about, why did we not use the mechanisms that the Convention actually provides itself for those situations, and is there something that we need to rethink both in institutional and political terms about how we use the tools? Or maybe the tools are not the right tools, but then we need to think about, how do we deal with the treaty? I think there are a couple of I think more fundamental, long-term questions that we need to address.

And of course, I mentioned Syria. Another issue that comes up in the Syrian context, and that brings me back to the fundamental objective of the Convention, is to essentially, in the words of the Convention, exclude completely the possibility of the use of chemical weapons. And we have seen the use of chlorine gas in Syria; we have seen that, even though we have made significant progress dealing with disarmament issues, there always is that residual risk of toxic chemicals in society that can be misused, and we need to think about how we can deal with these issues in the long term. And Syria for me is really an example that we need to rethink a little bit about the long-term objectives and how this works out.

Let me say a few words about the way the Convention was constructed and how this also poses challenges, at least in certain areas, today. We left Geneva, and also, we went through the understanding, and you will hear it come back again and again in the context of review conferences, that the fundamental protection of the Convention is the general-purpose criterion; this way it has been constructed around not a list, closed list of toxic chemicals that are prohibited, but around the principle of, a toxic chemical is a chemical weapon when it is used for that purpose, when it is produced for that purpose, acquired for that purpose, so it is driven by the intention of using or misusing a certain material. And that has been reaffirmed multiple times by the review conferences in the past, and no doubt it will be again reiterated at the next review conference.

How do we actually implement this construct? How do we implement it at the national level, which is an issue that has become more and more important, I think, in recent years? We need to think not just in terms of verification and in terms of the broad international law, but also how it actually works on the ground – on the ground means nationally, in the countries – how they implement it in terms of their legislation, their regulation, their enforcement, but also their governance structures that they interact with industry and research enterprises, and other things.

And of course, there is also the question of new demands, new trends. We have had this discussion about incapacitating chemical agents, as you remember, and recently papers drawing the attention by a number of countries to the use of such materials, which causes a whole range of both legal and practical issues. And it comes very close to the question of, how do we define compliance with the regime, and what do we need to do to ensure compliance in the long run?

Another assumption that we had in the design of the treaty was that, what we have done in the industry verification with the schedules and with the different parts of the verification annexation was a way of dealing with risk perceptions, with the risk posed to the Convention by certain types of materials and activities, and that we had more or less gotten a system that addressed and was able to manage risks, and then define verification activities against that. But as we have heard from Veronika already, science and technology are making progress and advancing, industry is changing. Have we seen things come up in that context that actually challenge our design assumptions? And one thing that came up recently in a discussion on convergence in one of the meetings organised by Spiez Laboratory in Switzerland, was something that has the rather beautiful and innocent name, HAPI. But HAPI here stands for HAPI, or for highly-active pharmaceutical ingredients. Now, these are chemical compounds that have high biological activity, they can be extremely toxic, either lethal or, most typically, because they are pharmaceutical ingredients, they have a high activity on the central nervous system, for example. But they are manufactured in fairly small quantities. If you see a plant that manufactures these things, that looks very, very much like the high-risk facilities that we anticipated.

But these things are not deterrable, because they do not fall into the regime that we have constructed; they are way below the thresholds. They operate against safety and security standards that are very close to high-security biological facilities. They are really ideal places for, if you think in terms of risk, technical risk, to the object and purpose of the Convention, that really should be high on the radar screen of our verification system, but we are missing them. That is an example for things that are happening around us in the industry and in science and technology, that we need to think about, and we need to think about whether what we have is good enough. And if it is not good enough, what we can do about it. Can we change the verification system? If we cannot do that or if we for whatever reason feel that that is not the way to go, can we rely on national systems? How can we then audit these national systems, make sure we actually have something that we can rely on, that is robust enough for us?

A couple of other things have already been discussed. One of the assumptions I clearly remember from the discussions at the very end of the negotiations, a good friend who was in his position for a long time, he is no longer with us, Jack Homs from the Netherlands, said, just as well we were really happy that we did not have to deal with the issue of terrorism, because that would have been far too complicated to negotiate into this treaty. Now, there we are today. The issue is there: terrorism and chemical weapons cannot be ignored. It cannot be handled with the standard systems that we have designed for state-to-state relationships, but at least on the legal and on the national side, we have a system that can be tweaked in such a way that it can be used for that, and that is exactly what Veronika alluded to.

But is that enough? And I just want to recall that there was a proposal by the Russian Federation this year about a new convention to be negotiated about chemical terrorism and possibly also extended to issues of biological terrorism, and Oliver and I wrote an article about it, fairly critical in terms of the approach taken, and also the complications it might create if one were to go down that track. I am not suggesting to go down that track, because I think it really would make things complicated. But what it does highlight is that there is in fact an area where we need much more inter-state cooperation, much more sharing of information, much more joint activity, and I do not see the reason why the CWC cannot provide a framework for that. In fact, I would go further than that and would suggest that there is no reason why one should not use, one could not use, the CWC as a broad umbrella framework to develop specific rules, regulations and agreements among state parties, whether that be an initial protocol, whether that be an informal arrangement. That is not my point. My point is that there is clearly a gap here, there is a need to do something much more practical for intelligence-sharing, information-sharing, for cooperation, for judiciary cooperation on these issues, to make sure that we can actually effectively deal with this threat, and a lot more needs to be done at the level between countries. The framework is basically there; the question is whether we are going to use it, and whether we can use it effectively. I hope that this is something that the OPCW can think about and address.

And then finally, let me just be very quick in looking at some of the challenges as I see them. We have seen with the developments in the Middle East already the challenge to the norm, but also the challenge to the practicality of what we can do, moving, obviously as far as I can see, into an area of more messy, more diffuse conflicts, conflicts that are not classical state-to-state situations, low-scale improvised devices, opportunistic choice in the use of weapons, and chemical weapons may well become an attractive tool in this context. Does it have an impact on the norm, but also, what can we do in practical terms to deal with that? We have the second thing that I already talked about, the re-emergence of chemical weapons’ potential, at least, in the sense of advances in science and technology, and somebody this morning made the comment that this is not just about advances in science as such, it is also about serendipity, it is about unexpected sudden change. And this is what we are more or less seeing in life sciences today. We have actually a revolution going on in the life sciences. We will see developments that we have not predicted. We have to be careful there, because one of the things that was mentioned this morning was manufacturing. I have a slightly different view in terms of how critical that issue is, so there is always the problem that you are dealing with a hype cycle, and at the beginning of that hype cycle, you do not quite understand the implications of the technology; it is easy to overstate it, and it is not quite clear what the limitations will be. So, one needs to actually interact with people who do this sort of science and this kind of industry application to understand how this is going to evolve. But nevertheless, it is something one needs to think about and look at; areas like convergence, nanotechnology and so on are important.

The other thing, by the way, that I just wanted to throw in in the context of terrorism is, there is one next step that I need to think about a bit more and that is becoming more important, and that is on the counterterrorism side, the linkage between terrorism and organised crime. Now, we know that is already there on the financial side, but if we see this happening also on the side of the more practical application of chemistry. I mean, we know that organised crime is very good at using certain types of chemicals, chemistry; they have chemical plants on the drugs side, they have experience with smuggling precursor materials and things like that. You see this combined with a terrorist threat, and the issue we are dealing with all of a sudden is of a different magnitude than what we have been discussing so far.

And that is where I will stop. Thank you.

Tariq Rauf, Director, Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Programme, SIPRI

Before I open the floor up, I thought just to start the discussion, Ali, I was wondering whether you could comment very briefly on the status of Libya’s national authority with regard to the CWC? And Veronika, what capacity would you say the OPCW has to prosecute or to investigate non-state actors who are alleged to be involved in chemical weapon incidents? And for Ralf, you had mentioned the Russian proposal in the Conference on Disarmament for a convention. There is the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, and I also originally have commented that, going through the Conference on Disarmament was probably not the right way. And a related question is that the OPCW has experience in the verification of the disarmament of chemical weapons and chemical munitions, and now that we are on the verge of discussing a treaty banning nuclear weapons and there is a discussion on how to verify that, I was wondering whether you could comment on the role of an international organisation in verifying destruction of a WMD, and how to protect classified design information and not to make this an obstruction in the path to achieving another instrument on eliminating WMD categories.

Ali Gebril Werfeli, Permanent Representative of Libya, OPCW

Thank you. The Libyan national authorities exist and play a very active role, a vital role for the destruction and the disposal of the chemical stockpile in Libya. Unfortunately, when it comes to the implementation of national regulations and national steps for the implementation of the Convention, the Parliament still did not approve the legislation yet.

Veronika Stromsikova, Director, Office of Strategy and Policy, OPCW

Thank you. It is a good question, and needs to be clarified again and again in terms of what capacity the OPCW has on prosecuting non-state actors misusing chemical weapons. And the answer has to be split at two levels, and one is the national level, and that is the one I have tried to address, meaning that every state party that claims to implement the Convention properly must have national legislation in place, including penal legislation, that actually imposes criminal sanctions on any natural or legal persons that would use chemical weapons. In terms of a national level, yes, the CWC foresees the prosecution of non-state actors for use of chemical weapons. On the international level, that is a completely different story of course, and certainly the OPCW and the CWC have no capacity in terms of prosecution, and I would like to stress that we even do not have any capacity or mandate to determining the responsibility and accountability question. That is why there are the fact-finding mechanisms and all the other mechanisms that have been established by the OPCW to determine whether or not chemical weapons were used, but it stops there, and by whom they were actually used, that is a different story, and that is why the international community has decided to set up the Joint Investigation Mechanism, the JIM, that, as you all know, has now produced already results that answer that other question. So again, there at the international level, when it comes to prosecution, certainly the OPCW is not the international body to look to.

Ralf Trapp, International Disarmament Consultant

Thank you. If I may just as one additional thought on this, the way the Convention is designed, this is not about prosecution; the Chemical Weapons Convention is not about criminal law. It involves criminal law here and there, but it is actually about compliance management, and compliance management actually has the purpose not of prosecuting, but of establishing compliance where there is a problem with it. So, it is a different philosophy.

Tariq Rauf, Director, Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Programme, SIPRI

Cannot the person who is responsible for the national authority be prosecuted?

Ralf Trapp, International Disarmament Consultant

I am just trying to make the difference here between a prosecution in the context of, for example, state action, and things that we have just discussed. So, one has to be careful about these concepts.

On the issue of the CW Terrorism Convention, there are a couple of things I wanted to say. On the first thing that you mentioned, the corresponding treaty on nuclear terrorism prevention, I am not against a convention that deals with chemical weapons terrorism; do not get me wrong on this one. But there is a difference here. We have in the chemical case a global norm that prohibits chemical weapons, and what we do needs to be in respect of and consistent with that norm. And that is slightly different from the nuclear case, where we do not actually have that prohibition as of yet. And so, whatever you do in the chemical, it needs to be constructed and designed in such a way that it will actually be in harmony with the Chemical Weapons Convention, not create a legal context which is then confusing the prohibition. That was my main criticism vis-à-vis the Russian proposal. I also do not think the CD was the ideal forum to negotiate it.

That does not mean to say that you have to do this in the context of the CWC. The CWC is an obvious framework to do it, simply because it is an almost universal treaty, so there is no reason to go anywhere else; the framework is already there, and the will of the states parties is already there, documented, to deal with the threat of chemical weapons. Why not extend that into the area of dealing with terrorism?

On the nuclear weapons treaty and whether one can look at the Chemical Weapons Convention, I always have difficulty with using terms like ‘model’, or you can sort of look at this and copy things across, because I do not think that it is going to work. There are certain principles that will work, and certain basic principles I think should be looked at, and you mentioned the question of institutionalisation of the issue, an institutional forum that can deal with concerns, that can develop verification, that can reach agreements on how you do practical things in the real world, yes, but the rest will depend very much on the practicalities, on the industry involved, on the types of technology involved, and on the types of proliferation concerns, and they are different. We had concerns with respect to chemical weapons technology in the destruction phase. How far can you push verification? At what point in time does it become proliferation-relevant, and can you control the information?

Tariq Rauf, Director, Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Programme, SIPRI

We are very pleased to have the former Director General of the OPCW here, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter. Please.

Rogelio Pfirter, Argentine Ambassador to The Holy See, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Thank you very much. I am delighted and grateful to hear from the members of the panel for these very enlightening statements. First of all, I will like to recall the days when Libya finally decided to declare its stockpile. I remember really well when we went to Libya in 2004 – I think Ralf was with me – to clarify issues, to dispel some fears there were about the adherence to the Convention. And we received the declaration. So, that is a long story, and I am very happy to hear now that indeed, finally, the precursors have been destroyed.

I just have very short questions for the panel. First of all, would the fact that the Security Council could or not agree on accepting a report stating that a state party, for instance, has violated the Chemical Weapons Convention, have or not an impact on the credibility and effectiveness of the CWC, and ultimately on the work of the OPCW? That is one question.

Another question would be just going to the regular work of the OPCW, whether we could hear something about the status of industry inspections and the role of industry in the context of the Convention? Is there any lesson there as to the significance of civil society, civil industry, for the effectiveness of non-proliferation agreements? I know that the expression ‘non-proliferation’ is not very popular in the OPCW, but in fact, industrial inspections are aimed at that, and avoiding the future proliferation of chemical weapons.

And I will stop there. Thank you very much.

Tariq Rauf, Director, Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Programme, SIPRI

I will next give the floor to Ambassador Ali Soltanieh of Iran. He was the national authority for Iran for the CWC, and he apparently also assisted Syria with its declaration.

Dr Ali Soltanieh, Senior Researcher and Advisor on Disarmament and International Security, Institute for Political and International Studies

Well, one thing that is a challenge for the future of the CWC is precedence, that we are making the measures, decisions, that become gradually derailing from the spirit and letter of the Convention. And this is very important. If you add more and more, then ten years from now, there are many loopholes. For example, destruction of the chemical weapons strictly should be made in a country, not outside, or many other things that I do not want to take your time. This is one thing that we have to be careful.

The other one, of course, is the issue of the chemicals. As Ralf said, I think that should be well, perhaps, because of the recent discussions to discuss, because something like, for example, chlorine, is not a chemical weapon, but the people do not know that it is allowed, it is not declarable, whatever; it is not verifiable or safeguardable. But of course, it is used and it is considered as a chemical weapon. This has to be somewhat clarified.

But anyway, and then the next thing is, increasing involvement of outside of OPCW, like UN Security Council, in the long term endangers the integrity of the CWC.

Jorge Lomónaco Tonda, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the UN and other International Organisations in Geneva

Thank you. I served five years in The Hague as Ambassador and Chair of the EC, so it is good to be back. But now I am Permanent Representative of Mexico in Geneva, so I would like to give a little bit of perspective on the discussions on the Russian proposal in the CD, in complement what Ralf said.

The proposal was part of a number of proposals that were put forward to the CD in order to put it back to work, and that was the real motivation. And in the end, it was not about any subject in particular. A number of proposals came. It was about who would get the credit of getting the CD back to work. It was less on the content of the proposals. The Russian proposal was about chemical and biological weapons, and they did not want to distinguish, which was problematic for some of us because we have different regimes. Then there was the question of whether the CD was the right place or not, whether the OPCW was right, or whether it should go to New York, where there is a track on terrorism. Many of us thought New York was the right place for this process, whatever process might need to take place, but of course, the motivation was not about the issue; it was about CD politics.

Thank you.

Veronika Stromsikova, Director, Office of Strategy and Policy, OPCW

In terms of the United Nations Security Council vis-à-vis the OPCW, certainly a very relevant question, but from the perspective of the Technical Secretariat, this is really for our membership to answer, and also perhaps for the United Nations Security Council members to answer, and how the dynamics play out. What I can say is that certainly, the Technical Secretariat goes in its action as far as it is being mandated by the states parties, and notably by the Executive Council, but in terms of verification issues that have been raised, which is certainly a topical question, that is something where we try to foster the debate, and I should like to inform you that we actually have set up an open-ended working group on future priorities of the organisations, because we feel that the time has come to not be content with simply heading towards the next revenue conference in 2018 with the usual preparatory committees, but we need to launch a broader reflection on those issues, including verification, and verification actually is upcoming for discussion by states parties early 2017, so we hope for new impulses also when it comes to industrial verification, which was raised, and we do agree this is most relevant, and Ralf I believe mentioned discrete organic chemicals, riot-control agents, nerve-incapacitating agents: all these need to come under debate, for sure.

Ralf Trapp, International Disarmament Consultant

On that issue, just one quick comment. We have this institutional culture of separating things into little silos: we have verification, you have national implementation there, then we have educational outreach there. I think the way things are going in the real world – and by that, I mean the industry and the use of chemicals in science, technology, and so on – will increasingly force us into taking a slightly more holistic approach to this and looking at an overall system of managing compliance and dealing with risk issues, which will involve verification in certain areas. And yes, we should think about whether we need to modernise it, whether we need to adapt certain things. I have made that point.

But we have to see it also together with, and functioning together with, national implementation measures, with the action of civil society, with self-controls in industry, governance structures that are evolving in industry and in educational and research institutions. And this has to somehow be brought together. As a minimum, there needs to be a conversation with these different actors to make sure they understand each other and have common objectives. In the ideal world, you will also come to issues where you can actually have joint programming of activities and bring things more closely together. That is all I wanted to say on the verification part.

On the UN part, this is a tricky one, but I think it is a question that the states parties themselves need to think about. There is a logic built into the Convention about the relationship between the OPCW and the United Nations, between the Executive Council of states parties on the one side, and on the other side, the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly. And some of these things work smoothly and no problem. The moment you go on to actual compliance issues, yes, you will have problems. And it is just normal that this happens. You cannot delegate it one way or the other; I think from my perspective, if the OPCW cannot deal with compliance issues and simply closes its eyes and says, ‘This is New York, leave that to the Security Council, they can do what they want,’ this is not good for the Convention, it is not good for the organisation. At the same time, that is a prerogative of the Security Council, and there has to be a respect for who has which function and which objectives in this context. It needs a conversation at the political level. I do not think this is a matter for the Secretariat in The Hague and the UN Secretariat to discuss. I think really, this is a matter of politics and of how states come together.

And then there was the question of, are we setting too many precedents? For me, this is a balancing act. There are situations where you have to adapt whatever you have in the Convention to the real world. If the rule cannot be applied, then the rule has to be looked at in terms of, how can I apply the rule? What can I do with the rule to make sure that it actually works in practice? But I have to be careful, because I am dealing with a tricky instrument, I am dealing with something that has the agreement of 192 countries, and parliaments have ratified these things, so it is not everything is free for everybody, you can do what you want; you have to have respect for the treaty and the objectives, and I think what really has to drive these decisions is, what is the objective of the treaty? What is it that the treaty actually wants us to achieve? And if you can justify it on that basis, then I think we can also justify certain ad-hoc situations, but I do see the risk of having a proliferation of ad-hoc solutions, in particular, when we have mechanisms in the treaty to deal with the very same issue that we then are not using, and that I think is a real problem.

Ali Gebril Werfeli, Permanent Representative of Libya, OPCW

I will continue where Ralf stopped. Now, I will bring the Libyan case again here, and when we authorised the Director General to look for different options how to deal with the remaining stockpile in Libya, so we had four challenges, political, logistical and security issues, and material and legal issues, and we have a lot of debates and formal consultations and decisions. Some delegations proposed that we should not even go to New York to ask for the permission, because the Convention, on the purpose of destruction of chemical weapons, there is no clear text in the Convention. For the purpose of destruction, you can transfer the chemicals with the clear resolution or decision from the EC, Executive Council. But at the end, we came to the conclusion it is better to go to New York and get the right decision from New York. As Ralf said, sometimes you should look for solutions within the CWC itself.

Thank you.

Tariq Rauf, Director, Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Programme, SIPRI

Thank you. It is interesting, because in the case of the IAEA and nuclear and the role of the Security Council, at least the previous Director General’s view was that the technical expertise lies in the organisation; the Security Council is a political entity. And in any case, the Security Council was taking the issue back to Vienna, so it was not really contributing very much, and it was making the IAEA’s life very difficult with the countries where it needed to do its verification.

Dr Jean Pascal Zanders, Senior Research Associate, FRS

Three elements I would like to put to the panel. The first one has already been touched upon. When looking at the case of the evacuation of the remaining chemical weapons from Libya, I was surprised that actually there was a Security Council decision. The first time such an operation happened, when a couple of munitions were evacuated from Austria to Germany, it was an autonomous decision by the Executive Council of the OPCW. Of course, Syria is a hybrid disarmament regime; it is partially cooperative, it is partially coercive. It is a completely different type of situation, and because there was an active war or there still is an active war going on because of the security demands on any international personnel going into the country, you have to involve agencies from the United Nations.

So I really have the question, when I read the CWC, the way I have always read it, and I look at the way there is a lot of autonomy in decision-making by the Executive Council and the Conference of the States Parties, and a deliberate insertion of a couple of steps away from the Security Council, even in compliance issues. I wonder why this is now happening, whether it is setting a precedent which I am not all that happy about, either.

The second point I would like to point, and it is basically a follow-up on a question you put forward, Tariq, is, because of the way the debate is going in Syria, and many questions are being raised about human rights and humanitarian issues related to the use of chemical weapons, the focus has been on individual responsibility. However, what people seem to be forgetting now is, under international law, there is also the aspect of the responsibility of a state party under its obligations of the treaty, and the Chemical Weapons Convention deals with that very clearly. That debate about responsibility of violation of the treaty, that is absent; it seems to be completely taken over by humanitarian issues. It is in my mind the reason why the Executive Council is blocked. But where do we stand now with responsibility of states parties under the Chemical Weapons Convention?

Given the status of universality of the Chemical Weapons Convention, we see tonnes of allegations of individuals, groupings, states being involved in supposedly assisting the chemical weapons activities that are taking place in Syria. The implication of that is that another state party is failing under its responsibilities under the Convention, and how does the community of the states parties, of the OPCW, deal with that? Because that is very corrosive to the future of the regime.

Dr Richard Guthrie, Coordinating Editor, CBW Events

Very quickly, first, next week, on the Biological Weapons Convention, there will be much discussion of the Science and Technology Review. Any lessons from the CWC processes that might be useful to input into that? And then the question of non-state actors. We have talked about prosecution, but there is actually a whole range of verification activities that would have to happen in the case of there being a terrorist use of such things. I was trying to think what the name of the facility was, the Aum Shinrikyo Chemical Weapons Production Facility was a declared facility; the OPCW verified the destruction of it. If there was another terrorist attack with a facility used to manufacture, the OPCW would have a requirement to deal with the verification of its destruction. Therefore, there has to be contingency planning to deal with non-state actor use.

Thank you.

Dr John Hart, Senior Researcher and Head, Chemical and Biological Security Project, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Programme, SIPRI

Thank you. I was wondering if it might be possible to have some further reactions to the Joint Investigative Mechanism findings, what the implications or the background is to the extension of a mandate on Monday for 18 days? And also, some of the specifics emanating from the fourth report that was circulated in October.

And a second question would be, if there is any clarification on possible environmental clean-up and monitoring requirements in Libya. There were some sulphur mustard stocks that were destroyed, and some of the destruction products are still in place. I think there could be a discussion on that. And also, it is my understanding that several of the tanks that were filled with phosphorous trichloride and vinyl chloride from the latest out-of-country removal operations were emptied because they were in poor condition, so this is also possibly an environmental question, to be further clarified.

Thank you.

Dr Oliver Meier, Deputy Head, International Security Division, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)

I also wanted to ask my question on this tension between respecting the letter of the Convention, and the ad-hoc solutions that we have seen, and clearly, some of the innovations that I have described are worth preserving, to keep them if there are similar cases in the future, including the Declaration Assessment Team, the Fact-Finding Mission. My question really would be, how do we go about that? How do we make sure that these innovations are not terminated when the specific case seems to be finished?

And my second question, related question, is on Syria, and I think the real challenge that we see is that, if the JIM mandate is not extended, an impression will last that if there are ongoing chemical attacks, those who are responsible will not be prosecuted. That is, I think, a really big challenge for the chemical weapons norm. My question would be, are there ways to pick up the discussion if there is a deadlock in the Security Council because Russia blocks an extension of the mandate, to take this to The Hague and continue this task of trying to identify those who are responsible? I understand the Technical Secretariat has limited mandate to do that, but there is the instrument of challenge inspection, which is precisely for this case, the case that a state party is using chemical weapons. I just want to pose that as a question, what the options are for taking this discussion back to The Hague if progress in New York is blocked.

Professor Maurizio Martellini, Secretary General, Landau Network-Fondazione Volta

Very short question. The question is very simple: due to the convergence between chem and bio, the problem of knowledge, political knowledge, becomes very, very important, especially in aeroscience. This is an arena in which you have huge investment, and I know very well the problem of quantities becoming crucial. And I did not see any move in this direction.

The second – if I can, and this has been also in my white paper to my government for the next Italian presidency – is the problem of the intersection between, let us say, treaties, organisations and the UN. In the nuclear security, Ralf, you know very well, there is this concept of state-level concepts. These state-level concepts used by the International Atomic Energy Agency are very intriguing, but we can see the similar situation in chemical weapons; we mentioned once, the bio and the chem are converging, because then it is very difficult to make a distinction, and the state-level concept is very political. This is my personal opinion, and so on. So, I would like some comments.

Ali Gebril Werfeli, Permanent Representative of Libya, OPCW

I will pick up one question from John regarding the clean-up activities in the storage facility in Central Libya. Yes, indeed, John, we are putting together now a plan for the clean-up of the storage facility, and there is a huge amount of chemicals after the destruction activities of sulphur mustard, and we will ask the EU for the assistance with this project, and we would be very happy if we can finish this work before May or June 2017 to close once and for all the dossier, because we committed to the local community in Ruwagha to clean up the facility. You can imagine almost 30 years of storage in bad conditions, where the temperature is over 50 degrees, and very corrosive chemicals, so a lot of chemicals being leaked to the soil and evaporated. The cleaning-up work will start in February/March next year.

The other thing maybe, just very, very quickly, on the chemical terrorism and non-state actors with chemicals, I do not know. I am like Dr Ali there when he said we should be very careful about the nuclear terrorism. It is the same with the chemical. You know very well that the terrorists, they are not using this issue very often for them to blow up themselves and kill 70 people or 100 people, more efficient than using chlorine than two or three people being killed, because when you have chlorine, some measures you can do and we can avoid the consequences of this attack, but when you have an AR-20 weapon like shooting, you can kill 100 people, because you have 100 munitions.

I am not saying it is not a threat, but we should be very careful and not build a new convention as a proposal or something, just we should fight the terrorism itself, first of all. That is my opinion.

Thank you.

Veronika Stromsikova, Director, Office of Strategy and Policy, OPCW

I will try to merge the questions that to some extent go in the same direction, but let me start with the specific ones that were on the science and technology, and what possible issues might be also relevant for the BWC, which starts next week. I would perhaps mention one, based on the Scientific Advisory Board of the OPCW suggestion, that is chemical forensics, or forensics more in general than perhaps would be applied also to a biological regime. That seems to be an area of growing importance and growing relevance to misuse of chemical or biological weapons, and that has not been sufficiently explored at all, so this is something we are picking up as OPCW in terms of chemical forensics through different workshops. But again, it has to be somehow structured and advanced, and that would be perhaps my idea of where the bio regime could draw inspiration from.

Chemical/biological conversion certainly; that is an issue, but what I would chip in the debate with is perhaps also, when you look at the responses to converged issues on the chemical and biological side, you also have to look at the regimes you have at end, and then we discussed the PWC regime yesterday, and you have huge disparities in capacities of those two bodies; you have small ISU in Geneva and you have OPCW with all its declaration/verification machinery. When you look at convergence, you also have to think about the institutional level and how to properly respond to these issues, and I do not think we are quite there, so let us see what the PWC comes up with. But also, one remark perhaps, it is a new issue but it is an old new issue, because you have had substances like ricin for a long time, which can be considered both chemical and biological. Yes, but a topic to be pursued.

Syria was mentioned numerous times, including ad-hoc solutions, FFM versus JIM again. My line on this would be perhaps to consider this whole issue in the context of inter-agency cooperation, because the OPCW is an organisation that has a corporation agreement with the United Nations. It is obvious that the OPCW is where the expertise on chemical weapons lies, so it would seem in many respects logical that the OPCW, in the Syrian case, notably, has been used as a body to go in with the expertise it has, through the DAT, through the Fact-Finding Mission, through all the tools that were deemed adequate to find out and determine the use of chemical weapons, and that has been done. As you know, the Fact-Finding Mission reports have contributed hugely to the work of the JIM, of the Joint Investigation Mechanisms, and that is, again, where we hand over to others who have different mandates, different responsibilities, and they have to pick it up and move it further.

On the question of sort of sending the ball back to The Hague, of course, depending on what the EC thinks, there are measures foreseen in Article 12 that can be invoked if the Executive Council so chooses. There in fact has been a draft resolution presented to the last Executive Council, which invoked some of the measures that are meant to ensure compliance with the Convention, that are foreseen under Article 12. But as you will also probably know, the Executive Council was not able to round up; it is still pending, and so is the draft decision. I certainly cannot speculate about what are the next steps, but there are measures, and they have already been invoked also on The Hague side.

Ralf Trapp, International Disarmament Consultant

Just a couple of things. On this whole question of ad-hoc solutions coming from the treaty itself, but also involving the UN Security Council, some comments. Why did the UN Security Council make the decision on removal from Libya? I do not know the answer to that, and I was not involved. It may not matter, but I think what is important is that we take that operation, that decision, and look back at the treaty and say, what is in the treaty that actually justified the action? What is it that the treaty itself says? I am actually on the part of those people who said you did not need to go to New York for that. There may have been political consciousness involved, in terms of trying to make it absolutely certain that nothing can happen, and then of course, there is the prerogative of the Security Council and the charter to do things like that. But in principle, in the long run, I think it is a much safer way to look back at the treaty and say, what is it actually that the treaty provides us with? And that gives me the answer to Oliver about the FFM and the DAT and things like that. There are hooks in the treaty that allow the Secretariat to provide certain types of assistance to states parties. The DAT is something. We did not call it DAT in the past, but we actually had countries in the past play out their declarations informally. There were mechanisms in place. They were not formal mechanisms, they were arranged depending on the country in case, and by invitation, normally. But it is not something that is completely out of the blue or is something that is not anchored in the treaty; there is provision in the treaty for the Secretariat providing technical consultation and advice to states parties, including about the declaration. It has been done before. It has been done in very specific circumstances in Syria, and so we need to think about whether this sort of mechanism for that sort of situation is actually something we want to preserve specifically. But the principle I think should be there.

The FFM is another case for me where you will not find a reference to the FFM in the treaty, but again, this is a process arranged between the Director General and the Syrian government about how to resolve some of these issues and investigate some of these cases. It was done with consent by the Syrian government. So again, the authority to do something like that is there. What we really need to think about is how we maintain the capability to do it, and the political will to support it when we come into another situation like that.

Then on the question of convergence, I think we have been discussing convergence in chemistry and biology for a few years now, and we are coming slowly to grips in understanding what the implications may be. I do not really think we have understood what it may mean for the regimes. We have sort of gotten a feeling for what is actually happening in the industry, and to what extent does it affect verification measures, to what extent may it affect national implementation. I think the main impact will actually be on the national side, on the side of how states regulate it and how states will have to, in the end, bring together what they do as control measures in the chemical field and in the biological field, into a broader overarching system, certainly at the interface between chemistry and biology. Whether we can do the same thing in the international sphere, I have my doubts. I do not see an absolute necessity to do it, and also, I think it creates more complications than it solves problems. I think there I am much more in favour of an informal process of exchanging information, views, assessments, and then come to some sort of common action without necessarily creating a new legal regime or new legal arrangements.

Dimitris Iliopoulos, Principal Advisor, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Arms Export Control, EU Representative to the OPCW, EEAS

Very quickly, I confirm what we have just heard: the EU has already committed through Ms Mogherini to pay for the expenses whenever we will have a plan and a budget for the decontamination in Ruwagha, and we plan to do that as soon as we have it.

Secondly, responding to Ralf, of course, the issue of the transformation, let us say, of the mandate of the OPCW from a disarmament mechanism to non-proliferation is definitely something to look into, and the EU, again, is coming up with a common position at some point, where we will be able to contribute actively to that direction.

Thirdly, a question. We are very pleased with what the OPCW Technical Secretariat does, and specifically, the department of Veronika’s, in looking to all the details vis-à-vis terrorism, non-state actors, and so on. And again, we support very much interaction with the other international mechanisms, including 1540, like we had discussed yesterday, the interaction taking best practices for MIEA, and so on. My question to Veronika is, if she could expand a little bit, what precisely they have in mind in taking forward this business.

Thank you.

Sigurd Schelstraete, Counselor, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Belgium

There are many challenges, and use of chemical weapons by non-state actors is one, but what is most harming to the international norm probably is the use by states. We have now one confirmed use of chemical weapons by one state party. The OPCW’s involvement in Syria has been preceded by UN actions; there was a UN framework so that it allowed the Fact-Finding Mission and so on. But you now also have an accusation towards Sudan, equally a state party. Now, you do not have that UN framework; my question is, do you have sufficient munition to really investigate these allegations? Thank you.

Dr Kai Ilchmann, Independent Consultant

We have heard a lot about changes in science and technology, terrorist use of chemical weapons. However, we have not heard very much about the flipside of these things. Ralf, you mentioned very briefly changes in the nature and character of conflict, so we moved away from one of the defining factors of the chemical weapons convention, which is armed conflict, the use of chemicals as a method of warfare. So, under the general-purpose criterion, there is one critical exemption in the CWC, and that is for law enforcement and riot control. With ever-increasing militarised law enforcement and counterterrorism action and the use of these things, is that a challenge to the norm of chemical weapons with riot control agents being used in these low-intensity, messier conflicts that do not quite breach the threshold of armed conflict?

Thanks.

Nicolas Kasprzyk, International Consultant, Transnational Threats and International Crime Division, Institute for Security Studies

I would have in fact many, many questions, but I will limit myself to only one question, and it will be for you, Ms Stromsikova. You have mentioned the fact that there are states that need to adopt the legislation to concretely implement the Chemical Weapons Convention. Would you be so kind to update us on the status of implementation of the CWC with regard to the national legislation of the African continent? And could you also give us an update of the status of the very efficient Africa programme that was launched by the OPCW at some point, what is the status and how do you see the next steps?

Thank you very much.

Veronika Stromsikova, Director, Office of Strategy and Policy, OPCW

I am actually grateful for the question by the EU on the inter-agency cooperation. There is an interesting project running which has a very off-putting title, something like inter-agency interoperability, something something. But the idea really is to make sure that the different relevant international organisations do know what each other is doing, and do know how and with whom to communicate mutually when there are chemical or biological incidents, and we discovered that this is sort of an unexplored ground that yet needs to be urgently explored, because you have a layer of ensuring that there are not five different teams from five different international organisations going to a country that is already struggling with having experienced a chemical or biological – they do not even know at that point – incident, and they need to find out as soon as possible, but there is the whole health level to it, humanitarian level to it, investigation level to it, and we do need to exercise and we do need to not perhaps establish any formalised ways of responding, but simply knowing what each of us is doing and what is our mandate, and how to help the country concerned and not flood it with different things going at different paces with different mandates. That is one field where really we strive to do better and cover some gaps.

On Sudan, and how to respond to that one, well, I have to say that there, it comes back to the OPWC’s mandate, which is quite clear in this situation, and that is without the consent of the states parties. There is no way the Technical Secretariat would go in and try to operate in any way or other. But there are procedures that perhaps also could precede any missions being sent to any place, and they are sometimes also slightly forgotten, I feel, and therefore seen by the Chemical Weapons Convention, which is in the first place a request for clarification, which any states party can raise to other states parties. This is a tool that is there. Actually, specifically in the Sudan case where there are huge inclarities, because we have one record by the Amnesty International available, and that is about it at the moment. So, there are tools that could be used, certainly, but again, it is up to the states parties, members of the Executive Council, to invoke such tools.

On national legislation – and many thanks to the question coming from South Africa – indeed, when I was speaking about hugely differing needs of different regions, I meant Africa in the first place. That is a region for whom the OPCW decided it needs to set up a special programme, the Africa programme, that aims specifically not only at the national implementation legislation, but also on response and capacity building in practically all aspects when it comes to implementation of the CWC. I do not have precise numbers on the status of implementing the CWC through national legislation when it comes to the African regions, but they are basically the most concerned when it comes to lacking national legislation. When we speak with them, it is interesting, because it becomes apparent that it is not really a political problem or any obstacles of a political nature that prevent states from that region to adopt; it is lack of resources, and it is also, this region certainly faces other challenges, and they have to tackle them, and that was their focus, so it is, again, an ongoing process. We have to do more in assisting African states, and we try to do more, and we keep reminding them of the CWC obligations as well, and we hope that the numbers are moving up. That is the encouraging news, perhaps.

Ralf Trapp, International Disarmament Consultant

I have a quick comment on the question of who is doing what and how do we coordinate these things between different regimes, between different organisations. And this being an EU-sponsored meeting, I should simply point out that there is currently going on a mid-term review of all of the European Union’s external financing instruments, one of them being the ICSP, the Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace. One of the initiatives under that is the setting-up of centres of excellence and of national teams in partner countries outside of the European Union in the area of CBRM.

I am bringing this up simply because we are often looking at this as something which the agencies and the donors should be doing amongst themselves, this coordination, mapping out and finding out who is doing what, and that is important; they should do that. But it is equally important that at the national level of recipient countries, a process takes place of trying to analyse what is actually needed, how should it be delivered, by whom, who are the partners, and this is a methodology that actually helps us in doing this and making sure that we get this interface slightly more operational between the donors on the one side and the recipient countries on the other side, and in fact, developing it into a partnership. So, that is just to flag here where I think there is a lot of opportunity for the EU to develop things further.

Then I wanted to respond to Kai and the question of law enforcement. And yes, we have this clause that allows the use of toxic chemicals for law enforcement purposes; it has been put in there for a number of reasons, very specific reasons, as an exception from the general rule that you should not weaponise toxic chemicals, because we are talking about weaponisation of these materials, or at least putting them into devices that can allow us to use these things in the form in which one would use weapons. And that is precisely the concern about how broad or how narrow do we interpret that provision of the treaty, and where do we set limits? This is where incapacitating agents come in, agents that act on the central nervous system. What we have to think about, in my view, is again, from the perspective of the Convention, what is it we want to prohibit or to control? And what we did not want to have is a situation where we can all of a sudden, without any restrictions whatsoever, develop certain types of chemicals into essentially weaponised systems, bypassing all the barriers that you normally have between science and technology on the one side, and an operational weapons system on the other side under the flag of law enforcement. That was not the purpose. And yes, the nexus of law enforcement in the traditional sense and military forces that are used for peacekeeping or for maintaining law and order in occupied territories makes it more problematic, so that is something that needs to be discussed, that is something that is not really a science and technology problem, but a problem of what is the intent of the treaty and how far can we go, and where is that line? I have my own view of where that line is, and it is much narrower than some other people’s line would be, but that is my point of view. The point is, that needs to be discussed among the party, because it really is a matter of the treaty in hands of an agreement amongst the parties. The discussion has started in certain areas. It took us more than ten years to get there. I hope we get to some kind of understandings, and I also hope that we get declarations by countries, an increasing number of countries, let us say, where they draw the line, so we get a feeling for what is actually meant by the norm.

Ali Gebril Werfeli, Permanent Representative of Libya, OPCW

Again, about the coordination and who is doing what, the different agencies, I have been representing my country in different fora, to being a focal point, national focal point to SICAM, to Stockholm Convention, to Rotterdam I do not know what, to Rome Protocol, and the last is the European Union CBRN initiative centres of excellency. And for the last 15 or 20 years, we are talking about the safety, how all of these agencies and donors can coordinate their work. And always, they start with the build of the national team, and this is the same. I wish you the best, Veronika.

Tariq Rauf, Director, Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Programme, SIPRI

Thank you very much. Please join me in thanking the panel, and thank you for your participation.

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IISS

Brussels, 3-4 November 2016

EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Conference 2016