Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention)
The Chemical Weapons Convention was adopted in Geneva on 3 September 1992 by the Conference on Disarmament, which transmitted it to the United Nations General Assembly at its forty-seventh session. The General Assembly commended the Convention and requested the United Nations Secretary-General, as Depositary, to open it for signature in Paris on 13 January 1993. The Convention remained open for signature in Paris from 13 to 15 January 1993, and thereafter at United Nations Headquarters, New York, until 29 April 1997, when it entered into force. This Convention has 188 members until end of 2011. In Middle East, Zionist Regime, Syria and Egypt are still remaining out of the Convention. Myanmar, North Korea, Somalia, Angola and South Sudan also have not yet joined to the Convention.
The CWC aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by the States Parties. The States Parties, in turn, must take the steps necessary to enforce that prohibition in respect of persons (natural or legal) within their jurisdiction. CWC along with NPT and BWC make the International Combating regime against WMD.
All States Parties have agreed and committed to chemically disarm by destroying any stockpiles of chemical weapons they may hold and any facilities which produced them up to 15 years of entry to force of the Convention, namely 29 April 2012, as well as any chemical weapons they abandoned on the territory of other States Parties in the past. States Parties have also agreed to create a verification regime for certain toxic chemicals and their precursors (listed in Schedules 1, 2 and 3 in the Annex on Chemicals to the CWC) in order to ensure that such chemicals are only used for purposes not prohibited under the Convention.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC or Convention). The OPCW is given the mandate to achieve the object and purpose of the Convention, to ensure the implementation of its provisions, including those for international verification of compliance with it, and to provide a forum for consultation and cooperation among States Parties.
The Technical Secretariat of the OPCW is responsible for the day-to-day administration and implementation of the Convention, including inspections, while the Executive Council and the Conference of the States Parties are decision-making organs designed primarily to determine questions of policy and resolve matters arising between the States Parties on technical issues or on interpretations of the Convention. The chairs of the Executive Council and the Conference are appointed by each body's membership. The Technical Secretariat is headed by a Director-General, who is appointed by the Conference on the recommendation of the Council.
The OPCW Member States already represent about 98% of the global population and landmass, as well as 98% of the worldwide chemical industry. A state becomes a State Party, and thereby a member of the Organisation, by one of three means: ratification, accession or succession. Instruments of ratification, accession or succession must be deposited with the designated Depositary of the Convention, who is the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The Conference of the States Parties is the main policy-making organ of the OPCW. Composed of all Member States, the Conference meets annually as well as in special session when necessary.
The Executive Council is comprised of the representatives of 41 Member States, who are elected by all other OPCW Member States to serve two-year terms. The Executive Council usually meets four times per year, and more frequently in meetings and informal consultations, to take policy decisions that enable the OPCW to function.
The Technical Secretariat assists the Conference of States Parties and the Executive Council and has a staff of about 500 people. It carries out the daily work of implementing the Convention, including conducting inspections.
The Convention also provides for the establishment of three subsidiary bodies to aid the three main organs of the OPCW in their work: the Scientific Advisory Board, the Advisory Body on Administrative and Financial Issues, and the Confidentiality Commission.
Islamic Republic of Iran and the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (CWC)
Islamic Republic of Iran as the biggest victims of chemical weapons was one of the most active countries participating in negotiations and drafting of treaty, banning chemical weapons at the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. Islamic Republic of Iran with the approval of Parliament in 1997 (11.03.1997), joined to the Convention and from the beginning has been one of the most active members of this Organisation. Presence of the Islamic Republic of Iran in all activities of the OPCW and its Policy Making Organs, due to the disaster of widespread use of chemical weapons against the military and civilians of the Islamic Republic of Iran by Saddam's regime during imposed war as well as possessing many chemical industrial activities are very significant.
In addition to the membership of the Executive Council and holding the Vice Chairmanship of the Executive Council and the Conference of States Parties in variety terms as well as in 2011, the Iranian delegation to the OPCW is a member of Confidential Committee, Scientific Advisory Body (SAB), Validation Group and also the Advisory Board of Financial and Administrative of the Organisation.
The principle positions of the Islamic Republic of Iran on destruction of remaining Chemical Weapons Stockpiles by the Possessor States and the disarmament dimensions of the Convention drew attention of other member States and they eagerly follow up and consider the positions and viewpoints of the Islamic republic of Iran in this regards.
The delegations of the Islamic Republic of Iran have always been amongst the most active delegations and in all topics and sessions of the Organisation have played the most effective and constructive role.
On the basis of the provisions of the Convention, each State party must established and introduced a National Authority as the contact point of the Organisation to the internal related organs. This was established with the title of the Supreme Council of the National Authority in our country from the beginning, and its secretariat based in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A specialized Commission, give consultations and assistance to the National Authority in the field of enforcement and implementation of the Convention.
1. Measures adopted by the Islamic Republic of Iran on the implementation of the convention:
Following activities have been taken by The Islamic Republic of Iran on the national implementation of the Convention of prohibition of chemical weapons so far:
- Establishment of National Authority with participation of all related Organisations and ministries,
- Preparing and presenting all the declarations on its chemical activities and facilities based on the Treaty.
- Coordination and implementation of more than 36 inspections from the facilities and chemical activities of the Islamic Republic of Iran (until December 2012), accordingly the Islamic Republic of Iran’s commitment to the provisions of Treaty has been confirmed by the OPCW.
- Appointment of the Islamic Republic of Iran's ambassador in the Netherlands as permanent representative to the OPCW.
- Establishment a specialized working group in Islamic Republic of Iran's embassy in Netherlands as Islamic Republic of Iran’s representative to the Organisation.
- Holding annual training courses in medical treatment aspects of the victims of chemical weapons in Tehran due to the implementation of provisions of the Convention and capacity building in the field of assistance in cases of use or threaten to use of chemical weapons. In these courses, Iranian’s physicians and specialists share their knowledge and experience to the participants from other members of the Organisation.
- Active participation of domestic laboratories in provisional test of the Organisation for being chosen as one of the designated laboratories of the Organisation to analyze samples in the process of inspection and verification.
2. Exchange of delegations with the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons:
With the aim of strengthening cooperation and exchange of views between two sides, the following visits have been exchanged between Iranian officials and the Organisation for the prohibition of chemical weapons so far:
- The official visit of H.E. Mr. Motaki, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran in December 2006 to the Organisation and participating and delivering speech in the eleventh annual Conference of the States Parties.
- The official visit of H.E. Mr. Kharazi, former Minister of Foreign Affairs in April 2005 and meeting with officials of the Organisation.
- Participating and delivering speech by Iranian deputies Minister of Foreign affairs for legal and International Department in the annual Conference of the States Parties and meeting with officials of the Organisation.
- The official visit of H.E. Ahmet Üzümcü, Director-General of the OPCW to Iran in February 2010.
- An official visit by H.E. Pfirter, former Director-General of the Organisation to Iran in August 2004.
- An official visit by H.E. Boustani, former Director-General of the Organisation to Iran in 1998.
- Official visit by Director of International Cooperation and Assistance Division of the Technical Secretariat to Iran in 2008.
3. The Principal Policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding the implementation of the CWC:
In general, the principal policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding the Chemical Weapons Convention is based on:
- Complete destruction of all Chemical Weapons Stockpiles within the framework of the final destruction deadline set forth in the convention.
- Non-discriminatory implementation of all provisions of the Convention and preventing merely emphasis on the obligations and ignoring the rights of the member states especially developing countries.
- The realization of the goal of universality through membership of the treaty especially by destroying of all weapons of mass destruction (chemical weapons stockpiles) of the non Parties to the Convention, interalia Israeli Zionist Regime under the supervision and inspection of the OPCW.
- Full implementation of article 10 of the Convention to provide assistance to the Victims of Chemical Weapons and national programs of protection against possible attack by the use of Chemical Weapons.
- The full, comprehensive and effective implementation of article 11 of the Convention including the elimination of all parallel, unjust and discriminatory export control regimes which are opposite to the spirit and provisions of the Convention and removing all the obstacles in free trade in the fields of activities permitted by the Convention.
- Preventing diversion of provisions of the Convention in the processes of actions and imposing and applying unilateral interpretations of them.
- Defending the principle of fair geographical distribution of posts and responsibilities of the Organisation and balanced and fair presence of all members states in various positions in the Secretariat according to the conditions mentioned in the convention.
Chemical Weapons Victims and Survivors of Imposed War
Active participation and contribution to the deliberations and decision makings process of the OPCW on issues regarding to Chemical Weapons Victims is one of the main priorities of Islamic Republic of Iran in International Organisations. About 100,000 Iranians are still suffering from the effects and damages of using of Chemical Weapons used by Sadam’s regime which had been supplied by some western countries during imposed war. Pursuing, defending and protecting the rights of Chemical Weapons Victims and Survivors, and providing essential assistances such as medical and spiritual protection of them is one of the main priorities of Iranian Foreign Diplomacy. In this context, so far, fundamental steps have been taken and will be continued in the future.
For this purpose, it is the main priority to make intensive efforts for inserting and bringing the issues of 8-Years war’s Chemical Victims and Survivors and their physical and mental sever damages in official documents of the OPCW as well as Iran’s verbal notes, statements, reports and oral and written national positions, in order to defend and protect their rights, and drawing the attention of the International Community to the Victims’ Situation in various sessions, meetings and other events of the Organisation. In this regard, the 16th annual conference of Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (CSP) which was held on 28 November - 2 December 2011 in The Hague, the delegations unanimously approved Iran's proposal to establish ‘International Network to Support Victims of Chemical Weapons’. In this session, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Islamic Republic of Iran to the OPCW, appreciated the Technical Secretariat, Director General as well as participating delegations in the conference for approving the proposal after the 15 years since entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention and called this decision as an important step toward expressing sympathy to the Victims of Chemical Weapons and hoped for more measures to be taken in the future to address the problems of these victims.
According to the decision of 16th CSP, the Conference called upon to establish the ‘International Network to Support Victims of Chemical Weapons’ as well as establishing a ‘Voluntary Fund’ to assist victims of chemical weapons. The Secretariat of the Organisation has been requested to be in close contact with regional, national and international Organisations dealing with such victims and to allocate space on the OPCW website to cover information about them. The Act calls on the OPCW to establish a data bank on victims of chemical weapons to especially reflect on their medical needs. The State Parties have also been called upon to provide victims of chemical weapons “with medical treatments in their own countries”, “financial contribution” to the Fund of the Network, “facilitating materials and equipment-related assistance” to the States Parties to assist and support the victims of chemical weapons, and to raise “awareness about the victims of chemical weapons at the national level.” In addition, the Director General is requested to present a report biannually to the Conference in this regard.
Additionally, it’s notable that due to the efforts of Iranian delegation to the Organisation in October 2010, the Executive Council of the Organisation approved that the Director General annually issues a sympathy message to the Sardasht Chemical Victims and in condemnation of using chemical weapons on 28th of June (the chemical bombardment day of the City). In this regard on June 2011, during a special ceremony attended by Director General and envoys of member states the first message was issued by Director General.
Regrettably, the CWC attention is merely focused on the possible future victims of chemical weapons while it pays no heed to the situation of the existing victims of chemical weapons, but after tireless efforts and close consultations with Technical Secretariat and other delegations, the decision on establishment of “International Network to Support Victims of Chemical Weapons” was approved by the CSP-16th, which covers the existing and future victims of chemical weapons. Establishment of International Support Network as well as annual Director General's Sympathy Message is two basic steps which the Organisation has taken so far concerning situation of Chemical Weapons Victims.
Furthermore, Islamic Republic of Iran’s delegation to the OPCW has proposed various initiatives to make the international community well aware on physical and mental sever damages of the 8-Years war’s Chemical Victims and Survivors, such as, holding an widely welcomed exhibition of “Consequences of Using of Chemical Weapons in Iran” at the sidelines of CSPs, which is co-organized by the Permanent Delegation of Iran to the OPCW and Iran’s Foundation of Martyrs and Survivors, with attendance of number of Chemical Victims and Survivors.