OPCW 106th Executive Council: UK national statement

Statement by UK Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Joanna Roper, at the 106th Executive Council.

Joanna Roper CMG

Mr Chairperson, Director General, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,

Let me begin by congratulating His Excellency, Ambassador Terán Parral as the new Executive Council Chair. Know that you have our full support throughout the year ahead. We also welcome and look forward to working with all incoming members of the Executive Council.

I would like to thank Director General Arias for outlining the Technical Secretariat’s comprehensive programme of work. We recognise significant international cooperation and assistance activity and important achievements, including the recent designation of a laboratory in Algeria. We also note important DG led efforts to consider the implications of emerging technology and artificial intelligence for the OPCW. We look forward to further discussion of both the threats and opportunities presented by these new technologies.  The UK is firmly committed to supporting other aspects of the programme of work in coming months, including enhancing geographical and gender representation.

Mr Chairperson,

Chemical weapons continue to be a threat to international security. We have seen further evidence of widespread use of Riot Control Agents by Russia across the front line in Ukraine. The use of Riot Control Agents as a method of warfare is a clear breach of Article 1 of the Convention. We are confident in the US determination that Russia has used chloropicrin, a scheduled chemical, against Ukraine.

We cannot stand by while Russia seeks to undermine the CWC. That is why we, alongside 12 other States Parties, reiterated our request to the Executive Council under Article IX to assist in clarifying reports that Russian armed forces have repeatedly breached the Chemical Weapon Convention in Ukraine. We encourage all Executive Council members to respond to this request. We are also seeking to reduce the threat posed by Russian chemical weapons to the Ukrainian people. We therefore welcome last week’s OPCW technical assistance visit which delivered crucial detection and protective equipment to Kyiv, funded in part by the UK’s contribution of £350,000 to the OPCW Assistance to Ukraine project. As our new Prime Minister stated yesterday, particularly in the aftermath of the Russian attack on a children’s hospital, the UK will continue to stand with Ukraine and its people. Our support will not falter.

Mr Chairperson,

The OPCW Declarations Assessment Team has concluded that there are further, serious, issues with the Assad regime’s chemical weapons declaration. It has been over ten years since Syria acceded to the CWC, and an accurate declaration is a distant prospect. We must continue to provide the Technical Secretariat and its Syria missions with our complete support. Their work is central to our efforts to mitigate the significant risks posed to international security presented by both the Assad Regime and regionally based non-state actors. We must also work together to implement November’s CSP 28 Decision in full, applying more scrutiny to toxic chemical transfers and working towards full accountability for chemical weapon use - giving victims the justice they deserve.

To conclude, Mr Chairperson,

The challenges to the CWC and the principles that underpin it are growing. Now more than ever, all States Parties must come together and fully commit to supporting the work of OPCW, to ensure it can meet current threats as well as those of the future.

Thank you.

Published 10 July 2024