UK’s FCDO Director for Defence and Intelligence announces £200,000 contribution to OPCW Missions in Syria

The Director for Defence and Intelligence at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Mr Stephen Lillie, has announced a £200,000 contribution to the OPCW Trust Fund for Syria Missions.

The voluntary contribution will help support the Technical Secretariat conduction essential work in the Syrian Arab Republic to ensure the full elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons programme and establish facts around the alleged uses of chemical weapons in Syria.

Announcing the contribution, Mr Stephen Lillie remarked: “During its first 25 years, the OPCW has proved to be a cornerstone of the disarmament system. The United Kingdom offers its continued staunch support. As well as exciting opportunities ahead, challenges to the Convention remain. To help tackle these, we are pleased to announce a new voluntary contribution of £200,000 to support the OPCW’s vital work in Syria to implement the Convention.”

The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Fernando Arias, received Mr Lillie on 28 November 2022 for a bilateral discussion held in the margins of the 27th Conference of the States Parties at the World Forum Conference Centre in The Hague, the Netherlands. During the meeting, the OPCW Director-General briefed the senior FCDO official on the preparations and policy developments ahead of the OPCW’s Fifth Review Conference in May 2023 and provided an update on the OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology (ChemTech Centre).

The Director-General and the FCDO Director also exchanged views on the contemporary challenges and opportunities that the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) faces.

The OPCW Director-General thanked the United Kingdom for its support, remarking that: “The United Kingdom is an ardent supporter of the object and purpose of the Chemical Weapons Convention. I convey my heartfelt gratitude to the United Kingdom for its strong contributions and cooperation toward the goal of permanently eradicating chemical weapons.”

Background

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has voluntarily contributed more than €1 million to the Trust Fund for a Centre for Chemistry and Technology. The project to build the ChemTech Centre seeks to strengthen the OPCW’s capabilities to fully address new and emerging chemical weapons threats, as well as to support capacity building in OPCW Member States. The construction of the ChemTech Centre started in June 2021 and is planned to be finished by the end of 2022.

The Declaration Assessment Team was established in 2014 to engage the relevant Syrian authorities to resolve the identified gaps, inconsistencies, and discrepancies in the Syrian declaration. The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission was set up in the same year in response to persistent allegations of chemical weapon attacks in Syria, with the task to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals for hostile purposes. The Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) began its work in 2019 and is responsible for identifying the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic.

The Fifth Review Conference of the States Parties will be held from 15 to 19 May 2023. Review Conferences occurs once every five years. It is an opportunity for all States Parties to review the operations of the Chemical Weapons Convention and set a strategic direction for the OPCW for the next five years and beyond. States Parties are anticipated to offer recommendations for enhancing the OPCW’s work in the areas of verification, assistance and protection, international cooperation, capacity development, and outreach.

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 99% 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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