The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) has for 15 years been a key instrument in combating the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The Convention has established an essential disarmament and non-proliferation norm and provides inspiration for other arms control agreements. It is also an essential tool in fostering international cooperation in the field of peaceful chemical activities.
Destruction is, however, far from completed and will remain the core objective of this organization for years to come. The Russian Federation, the United States of America as well as Libya have yet to complete their obligations as mandated by the Convention. We strongly encourage possessor states to do their utmost to meet their destruction targets as soon as possible.
Even if the Chemical Weapons Convention has already created a very strong norm against these weapons, we must continue to work towards CWC universality. Syria’s admittance that it possesses a stockpile of chemical weapons has caused great concern and shows that the threat of chemical weapons is still very real. Norway urges Syria to act responsibly in relation to these abhorrent weapons, not to use them under any circumstances, and to keep them secure. International law, binding also for Syria, strictly prohibits the use of chemical weapons. We have encouraged the Director General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to be ready and prepared to cooperate with any request from the United Nations Secretary General, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention and the Relationship Agreement between the UN and the OPCW. Norway welcomes the conclusion of the Supplementary Arrangement with the UN.
Verification plays a crucial role in providing confidence that all states parties are living up to their obligations under the Convention. In this area the CWC is in the forefront compared with other arms control instruments. As one or several more non-states parties join the convention, there will be an increased need for verification. It is essential that we make sure the OPCW maintains the necessary capacity for current and future tasks and remains the world’s knowledge repository in the field of chemical weapons.
Norway recognizes that some member states need international assistance to ensure full implementation of the Convention. This issue is closely related to national capacity building and skills development in areas related to the peaceful use of chemistry. Norway strongly supports the various programs related to international cooperation and assistance.
The use of Chemical weapons has severe humanitarian implications. The International community must be able to respond swiftly if the worst were to happen. In doing so we must take into account capacities already in place not least those of existing relief agencies. Norway has supported OPCW activities in this area over the years and will continue to do so.
The Third Review Conference next year provides an excellent opportunity to further strengthen the CWC. We are convinced that this Convention could benefit from including relevant stakeholders and civil society organizations in their work in order to ensure ownership and engagement.
One main reason for the success story of the CWC is that the Convention has been bolstered by the OPCW. We must ensure that this organization and its Technical Secretariat are given the political and financial support they need to fulfil their mandate.
Norway will continue to be a staunch supporter of the CWC which we consider to be an invaluable instrument in our common efforts to eliminate weapons of mass destruction.