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U.S. Statement To 33rd Session Of OPCW

Thirty-third Regular Session of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

Ambassador Eric M. Javits, Head of the U.S. Delegation Opening statement The Hague, The Netherlands June 25, 2003

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Director-General, and Distinguished Delegates,

It is my distinct pleasure to welcome you, Ambassador Kubernat, to your first session as Chairman of the Executive Council. The Chairman s job carries immense responsibilities, and is absolutely critical to the effective functioning of this governing body. Mr. Chairman, my government and I have complete confidence in your leadership and ability to steer our work in a meaningful and positive direction. I pledge the full cooperation and support of the United States delegation, not only at this Session of the Council, but throughout the period of your chairmanship.

Mr. Chairman, over the last year a lot has been done to get the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) back on its feet and headed in the right direction. Much of the credit goes to our very capable Director-General, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter, and the staff of the Technical Secretariat, who have restored credibility to management and stabilized the financial situation of the Organization. The accolades, however, also belong to members of the Council and the outgoing Chairman, Ambassador Lionel Fernando of Sri Lanka. The atmosphere in the Council has become collegial and workmanlike, rather than confrontational and polemical. We have worked hard to find solutions to numerous controversial -- yet important -- issues, including some that had significant implications for the long-term health and well-being of our organization but had languished before the Council for years.

The recent decision on tenure policy is a good example. Delegations knew from the start that it would not be possible to satisfy all the interested parties completely, and that compromises would be needed from all quarters. Thanks to that spirit, the Council was able to arrive at a solution that is humane for OPCW staff members, respects the basic elements previously agreed by States Parties, and ensures continued effective functioning of the OPCW.

The Chemical Weapons Convention s First Review Conference also demonstrated the ability of States Parties to find consensus, both in reaching a fair and balanced assessment of the implementation of the Convention so far, and in identifying priorities as we look ahead. I would like to personally thank Ambassador Djoudi of Algeria for chairing the Conference, Ambassador Marc Vogelaar of the Netherlands for serving as Chair of the Committee of the Whole, and Ambassador Dato Noor Farida Ariffin of Malaysia for her important contributions. Even though he is no longer in The Hague, a special debt of gratitude goes to Ambassador Daverede of Argentina for laying the groundwork early on to help ensure a successful first Review Conference. Last, but certainly not least, special thanks also go to all delegations for fostering a serious, cooperative, and non-polemical environment.

Following the Review Conference, a pause for reflection is quite natural. However, the United States believes that it is our collective responsibility in the months ahead to ensure that the Executive Council carries out the decisions of the Review Conference. In our view, Mr. Chairman, that task begins at this session.

Certainly one priority topic for discussion at this session should be national implementation measures under Article VII. The thrust of the guidance provided by the Review Conference on this issue is manifestly clear. Failure to comply with Article VII is not acceptable and must be remedied as soon as possible.

The Executive Council must recommend to the Conference, at its Eighth Session in October 2003, a plan of action for ensuring the implementation of Article VII obligations. The United States is working to further these objectives. We are encouraging, through bilateral contacts, State Party responses to the Articles VI and VII questionnaires. The United States is offering assistance, upon request, for meeting Article VII obligations and we are actively participating in regional National Authority workshops around the globe as part of our outreach program to increase compliance with Article VII. Much work remains to be done between now and the October CSP, when the plan of action must be considered. The United States will soon be tabling a paper in preparation for EC discussion of this issue.

Mr. Chairman, the United States believes that other equally important issues for the Executive Council to address following the Review Conference include:

* ensuring compliance with all aspects of the Chemical Weapons Convention; * optimizing the use of verification resources; * achieving universality; and, * ensuring adequate inspection intensity for each type of facility under Article VI.

We look forward to an exchange of views this week with other delegations on priorities for the post Review Conference period.

On another note, we have begun discussion of the OPCW Program of Work and Budget for 2004. The Council will touch on it during this Session, although work will continue up to and during our September Session. The United States applauds the cost-saving efforts that are allowing the Director-General to propose increasing the number of inspections under Article VI at no additional cost to States Parties. The United States appreciates this increase, but we believe that the increase should be directed toward other chemical production facilities (OCPF) - as called for by the Review Conference -- rather than spread indiscriminately across the spectrum of Article VI inspections as currently proposed in the draft budget.

We note, however, that there is another request for a significant overall budget increase while verification spending remains essentially flat. While we understand the reasons, this will be a difficult sell back home where, as you know, our policy for international organizations is zero nominal growth with rare exceptions made only on a case-by-case basis, and only when there is a specific discernable benefit. I can assure you, however, that the United States remains committed to making sure that the Organization has the resources needed to fulfill its core mission of strengthening security through the elimination of, and prohibition against, chemical weapons.

This Council has also been tasked with a related issue: a review of the effectiveness of the measures we took last fall to improve the Article IV and V financing system, and recommendations to the Conference for further action, if necessary. This is a matter of utmost importance. The Article IV and V financing system has been a destablizing factor for this Organization. Although not the only factor, it contributed to the financial difficulties this Organization has experienced in recent years.

We are not in a position to take action at this session. We need to carefully review the situation over the next few weeks, and prepare to take whatever action is necessary at our next session. I will tell you, however, that, in the view of my delegation, last fall we took crude, stopgap measures that did nothing to fix the underlying structural problems with the financing system. From what the Technical Secretariat has told us, these stopgap measures seem to have proven inadequate. We need to be prepared to tackle the true structural flaws in our financing system in September, to ensure that the OPCW has the resources it requires -- and has them when they are needed.

In closing, Mr. Chairman, I wish you every success in your year as Chairman of the Executive Council and I look forward to working with you to advance the goals and objectives of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Thank you.

[End]

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