Steering Committee commends continued progress in OPCW Africa Programme implementation

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 its fourth progress review meeting online on 15 November.

In attendance were 49 participants, including 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.

In his introductory remarks, Director-General Arias underlined the Steering Committee’s effectiveness in facilitating exchange and coordination with key stakeholders in Africa. He also reiterated “the Secretariat’s unwavering commitment to supporting the needs and priorities of African States Parties in particular, through the Africa Programme.”

The Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kenya to the OPCW and Chairperson of the Steering Committee, H.E. Ambassador Lawrence Lenayapa, expressed his satisfaction to see the Africa Programme “continue promoting the collaboration between the OPCW Technical Secretariat and the African Member States, in the framework of enhancing the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention on the continent.”

Deputy Director-General Melono moderated the Technical Secretariat’s briefing to the Committee that included presentations by the Director of the International Cooperation and Assistance Division and her team on the progress in the implementation of the Programme’s 5th phase since the Committee’s last meeting on 25 June. This included capacity building events, provision of technical expertise, support for African fellowships, research projects and attendance at scientific conferences, and development of global partnerships to expand the impact of the programme.

Steering Committee commends continued progress in OPCW Africa Programme implementation

The Steering Committee and observers commended the OPCW Director-General and the Technical Secretariat on the progress.

The delegations of Algeria, Cameroon, and Morocco noted their satisfaction with the implementation so far and highlighted the ongoing initiatives they support, as both partners and as beneficiaries of the Programme.

The Committee recognised the importance of support provided by the donor states, including recent voluntary financial contributions by France and the United Kingdom. The Permanent Representative of the United States to the OPCW, H.E. Ambassador Joseph Manso, announced a new voluntary contribution of €165,000 towards the organisation of a Regional Conference on Enforcing Effective Customs Control over the Trade in Toxic Chemicals in Africa.

The Steering Committee meeting was attended by the Permanent Representations and National Authorities of Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Rwanda, 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, and the United States of America.

Background

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 uses of chemistry for peaceful and authorised purposes to support 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 Programme benefits from voluntary contributions of a number of OPCW Member States.

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.

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