Civil society contributions to the operation of the Chemical Weapons Convention

Nov 29 2012
VERTIC Blog >> National Implementation Measures

Scott Spence, The Hague

On 29 November, a number of civil society actors participated in an invitation-only meeting with States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and with staff from the Technical Secretariat of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), including the Director-General. We discussed how civil society actors such as VERTIC can contribute to the Organization’s efforts to strengthen the Convention and its operation. I took the opportunity to share some thoughts on how, in particular, we can work with the OPCW to promote universality and national implementation of the CWC.

I noted that, to date, VERTIC’s National Implementation Measures (NIM) Programme has worked with 29 States on universality and implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and with six States on universality and implementation of the CWC (including Chile, Kyrgyzstan and the Philippines).

To keep my comments concrete, I briefly gave an example of such activities in the BWC context, involving Burundi who publicly acknowledged our co-operation with them at the BWC Review Conference last December:

We worked with Burundi, in French, in March 2011 on national implementation and ratification of the BWC.
We organized a five-day workshop in co-operation with the EU Joint Action for the BWC and the BWC Implementation Support Unit (ISU).
The workshop included experts from several of Burundi’s ministries, the European Union and VERTIC.
The EU experts and VERTIC staff members gave presentations on:

an overview and history of biological warfare and the Convention
BWC meeting processes
Scientific developments
Confidence-building measures
National implementation measures and national authority structure, and
Ratification of the BWC, including depositary information.

I noted that we then worked directly with several Burundi officials, including their CWC National Focal Point, on their BWC implementing legislation. This legislation is now undergoing inter-ministerial review before going to their National Assembly for adoption. In addition, Burundi deposited its instrument of ratification to the BWC on 18 October 2011, becoming the 165th State Party.

I concluded by noting that we will continue to offer similar co-operation with interested States on their adherence to and implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, in co-ordination with the OPCW. Our work demonstrates the expertise and practical support that civil society actors are contributing towards the goal of strengthening the CBRN conventions, and it is warmly welcomed by the States we work with.

Scott Spence is the Senior Legal Officer at VERTIC, where he co-ordinates the strategic vision and technical delivery of the National Implementation Measures (NIM) Programme.

Last changed: Nov 29 2012 at 3:52 PM