UN Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).




UN Committee Assignment

Organization for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

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By Georgia Stanley and Omra





Submitted to: Professor

Submitted on: January 16,

Course: Model United Nations



            The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
(OPCW) is an autonomous international organisation that came into force in
1997. Although the organisation originated fairly recently, talks on the
prohibition of chemical weapons have been taking place since the 19th
century. Prior to World War I, three agreements had been drafted regarding a
restriction on the use of chemical weapons in warfare. Unfortunately, these
measures were violated over the course of First World War. Following the
atrocious events that took place during this time, the 1925 Geneva Protocol was
adopted with the aim of prohibiting certain methods of warfare, including
chemical weapons. Subsequently, the international community would realize the
importance of not only banning chemical weapons from being used during warfare,
but also implementing measures regarding the development and stockpiling of
these weapons. The Eighteen Nations Disarmament Committee (ENDC), taking place
in 1968, involved talks on chemical and biological weapons, leading to the
Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) coming into force in 1975. While this
Convention represented great progress towards the prohibition of chemical
weapons, the talks following the BWC were specifically targeted towards an
international agreement regarding the prohibition of chemical weapons. These
talks became even more important when it was announced, in the following years,
that Iraq had been using chemical weapons during the war against Iran.


Following a spurt of
motivation from the international community, including the United States and
Soviet Russia, the talks on prohibition of chemical weapons that had taken
place at the Conference on Disarmament crystalized into the Chemical Weapons
Convention (CWC) in 1992. The signatory States to the CWC also approved of the
Paris Resolution, creating the Preparatory Commission, which would be paving
the way for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The Preparatory Commission existed from the Paris Resolution up until the coming
into force of the CWC in 1997, which also marked the official beginnings of the


Purpose and Mandate


            The purpose of the OPCW is simple and straightforward:
eliminating chemical weapons. Specifically, it functions with the mandate to “implement
the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in
order to achieve the OPCW’s vision of a world that is free of chemical weapons
and of the threat of their use, and in which cooperation in chemistry for
peaceful purposes for all is fostered” (https://www.opcw.org/about-opcw/mission/). In order to fulfil this
mandate, the OPCW works in many different areas. The first of these areas is
demilitarisation. The OPCW works to ensure the destruction of already existing
chemical weapons stockpiles. The destruction of these weapons is a hefty
process, because the OPCW wants to ensure that the mechanism used to destroy
the chemical weapons has the minimum negative effect on the population as well
as the environment. The second area of OPCW’s mandate is to work to limit and
halt the proliferation of chemical weapons. This means that the State-parties
to the CWC are not permitted to develop or use chemical weapons at any given
moment, unless it is for the purposes allowed in the Convention and within the
States’ jurisdiction. In order to ensure the compliance with these obligations,
the OPCW has a verification process that allows them to monitor each States’
chemical activity. In cases of non-compliance with the Chemical Weapons
Convention, OPCW has the mandate to take action against the offending state and
report on the violations to the larger international community (Background
guide). Moreover, in the case of any related threats that “pose a threat to
international peace and security”, OPCW has a responsibility to inform the UN
(Background guide).  Their third area of
OPCW’s mandate is to assist and protect Member States who have been affected by
chemical weapons. There are resources available to the OPCW to achieve this
goal, such as the Voluntary Fund for Assistance. With these resources, the OPCW
is able to provide assistance to victims of chemical weapons, as well as train
its Member States so they are well equipped in case of chemical outburst. The
fourth aspect of OPCW’s  mandate is to
reinforce international cooperation, to promote progress and development in the
field of “chemistry for peaceful purposes” (https://www.opcw.org/about-opcw/mission/). They function as a
catalyst for discussion on the threat of chemical weapons, their development,
and possible solutions (Background guide). The fifth aspect of their mandate is
to promote effective implementation for member-States. This is achieved through
the OPCW providing advice and support to Member States to help them implement
the provisions of the Convention. Lastly, the final aspect of their mandate is
to work toward universal adherence to the Convention. Their vision is defined
as “the multilateral character of the CWC and the equal application of the CWC
to all States parties” (Background guide). The aim of this objective is to
promote greater international cooperation, ultimately leading to greater


Jurisdiction, and Goals for the Future


            OPWC’s jurisdiction extends to its to approximately 98%
of the global population (Background guide). The only states that are not
member of OPCW are _______. Furthermore, OPCW jurisdiction extends to
“facilitatting, approving…, and verifying agreements between States
parties and OPCW; inspecting chemical weapon production, storage, and
destruction facilities; and resolving complaints of non-compliance”
 (Background guide).


            The ultimate goal for the future of the Organization for
the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is eliminate all chemical weapons from the
world and a complete halt on the creation and proliferation of chemical weapons
(Background guide). By 2017, “approximately 95% of declared stockpiles of
chemical weaponshave been destroyed, and a Nobel Peace Prize awarded to OPCW
in 2013 for its efforts to eliminate chemical weapons” (Background guide). OPCW
 While its primary goal is to eliminate chemical weapons, it also works to
adapt to emerging security threats that include the use of chemical weapons in
terrorist attacks.


Function Within the United Nations


In order to understand the
OPCW’s role in the international community, we must comprehend how this
organisation functions within the United Nations (UN) system. The OPCW is over
and above all an independent international organisation, that is mandated to
ensure the application of the CWC. With that being said, the OPCW maintains a
close and important partnership with the United Nations. This was notably
expressed by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, when he stated that: “The
OPCW is a good friend and partner of the United Nations. As chemical weapons
continue to pose a grave risk, cooperation between our two organizations has
deepened enormously in recent years.” Moreover, this close partnership implies
that the OPCW closely works with the United Nations General Assembly and
Security Council in most severe cases.


OPCW is made up of three
subsidiary bodies; the Conference of States Parties, the Executive Council, and
the Technical Secretariat (Background guide). The Conference of States Parties
is responsible for the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention
(Background guide). It provides oversight of the Chemical Weapons Convention,
and monitors compliance of the treaty. Moreover, it “oversees the activities of
the Executive Council and Secretariat” (https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/Fact_Sheets/English/Fact_Sheet_3_-_OPCW_Structure.pdf). Additionally, if approves
the budget and elects the Executive Council (Background guide). The Executive
Council has the mandate to “promote the effective implementation of, and
compliance with, the CWC” (Background guide). Moreover, it approves “agreements
between States parties and the OPCW for implementation and verification
activities … and oversees disputes of on-compliance by ordering States
parties to remedy a situation within a given time period” (Background guide).

Lastly, the Technical Secretariat is responsible for managing the daily
administrative process of the OPCW, including but not limited to “day-to-day
communications between OPCW and Member States, public relations, drafting
budgets and reports, and negotiating verification agreements with Member
States, and conducting on-site inspections of chemical weapon storage and
destruction facilities” (Background guide).


Membership and Voting Procedures


All State parties to the CWC
are automatically members of the OPCW. This is guaranteed as per article VIII
(2) of the Convention. In order to become a State party to the Convention, said
State must ratify or become a party through accession. Once it officially
became a Member, the States’ membership is unlimited in duration. Each Member State
has one vote during the OPCW Conferences.


Key resolutions and decisions
– Georgia


The OPCW was founded upon the
convention on the Prohibition of the development, Production, Stockpiling, and
Use of Chemical Weapons and Their Destruction, adopted in 1992 (Background
guide). Under this convention, member states had obligations never “(a) To
develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons, or
transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons to anyone; (b) To use
chemical weapons; (c) To engage in any military preparations to use chemical
weapons; (d) To assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in
any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention (https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/CWC/CWC_en.pdf). Additionally, member
states are obligated to destroy any existing stockpiles of chemical weapons and
in its territory, whether or not they were produced by that state (https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/CWC/CWC_en.pdf). This Chemical Weapons
Treaty forms the foundation upon which IOCW sits and is the most key resolution
in the organization’s history. Another important resolution was settled in
September 2001 with the United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolution 55/283,
which laid out the relationship and mandate of the OPCW, and how it would
report to the General Assembly. Additionally, this resolution on focused on how
OPCW would ensure equitable representation.


Main Dynamics


Sweden has been a Member
State of the OPCW since it’s genesis, and has been actively contributing to the
organisation ever since. From a historical perspective, Sweden played a big
role in the stages leading to the creation of the OPCW. In 1968, Sweden’s
influence led to the adoption of chemical as well as biological weapons on the
Eighteen Nations Disarmament Committee’s agenda. These multilateral talks led
to the drafting of the Biological Weapons Convention and paved the way for the
Chemical Weapons Convention.


More recently, the OPCW has
been actively researching and playing a disarmament role in the Syrian civil
war. Following the 2013 chemical attacks that took place in Syria, the OPCW and
the UN teamed up in order to manage the chemical warfare that was taking place
in Syria, which was in violation of the CWC. Together, these organizations put
in place a Joint Mission, aiming to investigate the chemical attacks in Syria,
as well as destroy all their stockpiles. The OPCW-UN Joint Mission started in
2013 and successfully came to an end in 2014. This was a major success for both
organizations, considering the short length of the mission and the tremendous
support it drew from the international community. Sweden expressed their
support for this mission and also contributed with resources such as transport
aircraft units to assist the OPCW-UN Joint Mission on the ground. Additionally,
Sweden also provided financial and technical support to the OPCW-UN Joint
Investigatory Mechanism, also working on the Syrian chemical weapons. The
OPCW’s past and current significant work has earned the organization the 2013
Nobel Peace Prize.