The Steering Committee of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) Programme to Strengthen Cooperation with Africa on the Chemical Weapons Convention held an online progress review meeting on 25 June.
The meeting brought together over 60 Committee members, observers, and Technical Secretariat staff led by the Director-General of the OPCW, H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, and the Deputy Director-General, H.E. Ambassador Odette Melono.
Director-General Arias reaffirmed, in his introductory remarks, the Secretariat’s “continued commitment and support to the work of this important body.” The Director-General also expressed his appreciation for the Committee’s role as a useful forum for dialogue and coordination with key stakeholders.
The Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kenya to the OPCW and Chairperson of the Steering Committee, H.E. Ambassador Lawrence Lenayapa, underlined: “The Committee continues to actively deliver as a dedicated forum aimed at promoting engagement between the OPCW and Africa in a joint effort to enhance CWC implementation on our continent.”
Deputy Director-General Melono moderated the Technical Secretariat’s briefing to the Committee. These included a presentation by the Director of the International Cooperation and Assistance Division and the Coordinator of the Africa Programme that gave a progress update on the implementation of the Programme’s 5th phase, since the Committee’s last meeting in November 2020.
Acknowledging developments and activities conducted under the programme during the reporting period, the Steering Committee and observers commended the OPCW Director-General and the Technical Secretariat’s Team on the pace of implementation despite the constraints imposed by the global pandemic. The Committee also expressed appreciation to programme donors and partners for their support for Africa within the Programme’s framework.
The Permanent Representative of Morocco to the OPCW and current Chairperson of the Executive Council, H.E. Mr Abdelouahab Bellouki, thanked the Technical Secretariat “for pursuing the implementation of the Programme, making it a success story for the Organisation”.
The Permanent Representative of Cameroon to the OPCW, H.E. Ms Madeleine Liguemoh Ondoua, described the programme as “a rich cooperation between the OPCW and Africa, as it takes into account the interests of African States Parties and helps implement the CWC on the continent”.
The Steering Committee meeting was attended by the Permanent Representations and National Authorities of Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and the Sudan. They were joined by the observers from the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, and the European Union.
The Programme to Strengthen Cooperation with Africa on the Chemical Weapons Convention – known as the Africa Programme – focuses on the needs of OPCW Member States on that continent, including the promotion of peaceful uses of chemistry for a developed, safe, and secure Africa.
The Africa Programme is based on triennial planning and has completed four phases since its inception. A fifth phase was launched in January 2020 and covers the period 2020-2022. The design of this phase is based on a need assessment followed by wide and inclusive consultations with the African Member States.
The Committee’s membership for 2021 includes: Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and the Sudan. Observer status is held by the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, and the European Union.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Member States, oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
Over 98% of all declared chemical weapon stockpiles have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.