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CWC executive council appointment

12 May 2004 Media Statement

CWC executive council appointment

New Zealand takes up its two-year appointment to the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) today.

Disarmament and Arms Control Minister Marian Hobbs says New Zealand has been a core supporter of the Chemical Weapons Convention since it came into force in 1997.

"So it is appropriate that we’re taking up this important role," Marian Hobbs said.

As an Executive Council member New Zealand will be one of 41 countries responsible for making key decisions about how the OPCW goes about its work enforcing the chemical weapons ban. The Chemical Weapons Convention currently has 162 member states.

"Supporting the ban on chemical weapons is one of the government’s disarmament priorities so we will be using our influence to help ensure that it is implemented as effectively as possible," Marian Hobbs said.

"It is one thing to have treaties like the Chemical Weapons Convention in place, but it is another thing to make sure such treaties live up to their goals in practice."

The Chemical Weapons Convention is a unique disarmament treaty in that it bans an entire class of weapons, while also providing a system of inspections to check that member states are complying with the ban.

"While New Zealand is on the Executive Council we will be working to make sure inspections are targeted at those chemical facilities that pose the greatest risk," Marian Hobbs said. "We will also be seeking to ensure that the six member countries that still have chemical weapons destroy them as soon as possible. These offensive weapons have no place in our world."

The Executive Council usually meets four times a year in The Hague. New Zealand’s first meeting will be from June 29 to July 2. The New Zealand Embassy in The Hague, serves as New Zealand’s Permanent Mission to the OPCW.

ENDS

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