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Annan Calls on Govts to Destroy Chemical Weapons

Annan Calls on Governments to Destroy ‘Cruel And Inhumane’ Chemical Weapons

New York, Dec 5 2006 3:00PM

Describing chemical weapons as “cruel and inhumane,” United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on all States to accede to the global convention banning these arms, as the treaty approaches its 10-year anniversary.

In a message to a high-level conference in The Hague that since entering into force in 1997, the Chemical Weapons Convention has contributed to the steady destruction of stockpiles worldwide. There are now 181 nations – representing about 98 per cent of the world’s population – that are party to this agreement.

“Yet several key actors remain outside its framework. On the eve of the Convention’s tenth anniversary, I once again urge all governments that have not yet done so to ratify or accede to the treaty without delay… I encourage all signatories to destroy these cruel and inhumane weapons within already established deadlines,” he said, in the message.

Mr. Annan urged all States party to the treaty to “enact appropriate national legislation to enforce” the agreement, adding it was also crucial that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) – a UN-affiliated body – receives full support. Countries automatically become members of the OPCW when they accede to the convention.

“Both OPCW and States Parties can continue to count on the support of the United Nations System. The UN remains deeply concerned about the dangers of chemical weapons – indeed all weapons of mass destruction – and is actively engaged in efforts to counter this threat.”

Highlighting the General Assembly’s adoption in September of the UN’s Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy as being one example of the effort to stamp out weapons of mass destruction, Mr. Annan described them as “one of man’s most terrible inventions.”

But he added that “eliminating them would be one of mankind’s grandest accomplishments” and called for stepped-up efforts to “banish these instruments of death.”

The Conference of States Parties to the Convention, which is holding its eleventh session, runs from today until 8 December.

The Secretary-General’s message was delivered by Tim Caughley, Director of the UN’s Department of Disarmament Affairs. Mr. Annan himself is in New York, from where he will travel later today to Washington, D.C. to attend a dinner in his honour hosted by United States President George W. Bush.

ENDS

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