21 October 2003
U.S. Outlines Priorities for Chemical Weapons Meeting
Agreement on national implementation action plan,
budget top list
Agreeing on a budget and approving an action plan to assist and
ensure full and effective compliance by members of the Organization
for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are the foremost
priorities for the organization, according to a U.S. official.
Ambassador Eric Javits, who heads the U.S. delegation to the Eighth
Conference of States Parties of the OPCW in The Hague, said October
20 that "there is no greater task before this conference than the
setting of the agenda and budget for the coming year." He noted
that the organization's director-general had agreed to trim the
previous funding request increase from 8 percent to 7 percent over
the current level. The United States, Javits said, has made the "difficult
decision" to support the revised budget proposal.
"We recognize that it is essential to correct the problems of
the past and provide the resources the OPCW needs to fulfill its
mandate in the future," Javits said. "Rigorous accountability and
oversight are also needed, and a constructive, cooperative effort
to find new, more effective means of doing business," he added.
Javits said he was "very concerned" at the lack of agreement to
date on an action plan for national implementation. "My delegation
has made significant concessions in the interest of consensus," he
said, "recognizing the importance of fulfilling the task set by
the Review Conference. Unfortunately, some delegations have not
been as flexible.
"We truly believe that the proposed plan of action, which includes
an active program of positive measures to assist States Parties
in meeting their obligations, is the right way to proceed. ...
We hope that the few states that have so far not accepted the proposed
plan will refrain from blocking consensus."
On the positive side, Javits praised the recent steps taken by
some States Parties to review and update declarations convention
members made when initially joining. He also welcomed apparent
progress on agreeing to an action plan for achieving universal
membership. "The number of states that have become parties to the
Chemical Weapons Convention has continued to grow," he said. Having
an action plan for universality is important to persuade "hard
targets" and other remaining non-States Parties of the security
benefits of renouncing chemical weapons, he said.
"Important as agreement on these plans is, actually achieving
results in national implementation and universality is the real
task," Javits said. "Over the next few years member states have
a lot of work to do. The Executive Council and the Conference need
to monitor the situation carefully to ensure that the plans are
faithfully carried out, and hold States Parties accountable for
meeting their implementation obligations. For its part, the United
States will contribute actively to achieving positive results in
both areas," he added.
Following is the transcript of Javits' remarks:
Eighth Conference of States Parties of the Organization for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
Ambassador Eric M. Javits, United States Delegation
The Hague, The Netherlands
October 20, 2003
Madame Chairperson, Mr. Director-General, Distinguished Delegates:
Let me begin by taking this opportunity, Madame Chairperson, to
welcome you to the chair and to pledge the support of the United
States delegation to ensuring the success of this Conference. The
meeting of the Conference of the States Parties is always an important
occasion. It is the best opportunity for the members of the Organization
for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to take stock of
what we have accomplished over the last year. And it is also the
critical occasion at which we lay the foundation for our work for
the coming year, most importantly, by approving the budget for
Let me take this opportunity also to express the sincere appreciation
of the United States, as well as my personal appreciation, for
the masterful performance of Ambassador Djoudi during his tenure
as Chairman of the Conference. No matter what the subject, no matter
how difficult the situation, he has consistently offered us a voice
of wisdom and reason. We all owe him a debt of gratitude and we
are pleased that we will continue to have the benefit of his many
skills in his new role as Chairman of the Committee of the Whole.
Since last year's Conference, the member states of the OPCW have
continued to improve their cooperation with each other and with
the Technical Secretariat. The Executive Council and the Conference
have been able to take consensus decisions on long-standing issues.
The Review Conference laid out a detailed plan for work over the
next several years, which is already being implemented. Furthermore,
the Technical Secretariat has made progress in its ability to perform
its valuable work with greater efficiency. The U.S. fully supports
the work that has been done by Director-General Pfirter and the
senior leadership of the Technical Secretariat to improve the operations
of the organization.
I particularly want to express the appreciation of the United
States for the efforts and the accomplishments of the men and women
of the Technical Secretariat over the last year. We recognize that
the difficult decisions taken by member states ha[ve] created anxiety
and uncertainty for many. By changing the head of the Technical
Secretariat, member states made clear that they wanted things done
differently. Furthermore, member states finally reached a decision
on a starting date for the tenure policy, which has directly impacted
many. And steps to remedy personnel-related practices that are
seen in capitals as hard to justify have created additional concerns.
I want to stress to the members of the Technical Secretariat that
we value and appreciate the dedication and skill that you contribute
to fulfilling the important work of the OPCW. We regret that remedying
the problems created in the past is creating anxiety and pain in
the present. We want to ensure that each of you is treated fairly
as the OPCW goes through this necessary period of transition.
We also appreciate the emphasis the Director-General and his senior
staff have placed on full transparency with member states. The
U.S. believes that the record of the preceding year indicates that
the leadership of the Technical Secretariat has adopted transparency
as a key principle in its working relationship with the States
Parties. That attitude has promoted a cooperative relationship
that is essential if the OPCW is to successfully address the challenges
of the future. The tasks at hand require both effective leadership
of the Technical Secretariat, and the active support and participation
of the States Parties. We appreciate the efforts of the staff to
ensure that all the interested parties are working together to
achieve a common goal.
As I noted previously, there is no greater task before this Conference
than the setting of the agenda and budget for the coming year.
The Director-General's original budget proposal, which called for
a significant increase, did not find favor with States Parties.
The Director-General has since proposed to reduce this request
by a full 1 percent, and at the same time make additional funds
available for international cooperation. He has emphasized that,
below this level of funding, he will be unable to guarantee the
organization's ability to fully perform its core functions.
This revised proposal still calls for an expenditure increase
of over 7 percent. It is still a large increase -- one very difficult
for many capitals, including mine, to accept. But my capital has
made that difficult decision, and is prepared to support the Director-General's
revised budget proposal. We recognize that it is essential to correct
the problems of the past and provide the resources the OPCW needs
to fulfill its mandate in the future. We also recall that one of
the major causes of this increase is the tenure policy adopted
by this body in 1999, and the implementation of that policy provided
earlier this year in an Executive Council meeting during the Review
Additional resources are needed for this organization -- but that
is never a complete answer to any problem. Rigorous accountability
and oversight are also needed, and a constructive, cooperative
effort to find new, more effective means of doing business. This
means, among other things, that we delegates must learn to be pragmatic
and moderate when our political agendas interfere with the effective
operations of the organization.
There are a number of important issues before this Conference,
beyond the issue of the budget. As decided at the Review Conference,
we must adopt an action plan to assist and ensure full and effective
compliance by States Parties with their national implementing obligations
under Article VII.
Madame Chairperson, I am very concerned at the lack of agreement
so far on an action plan on national implementation. My delegation
has made significant concessions in the interest of consensus,
recognizing the importance of fulfilling the task set by the Review
Conference. Unfortunately, some delegations have not been as flexible.
We truly believe that the proposed plan of action, which includes
an active program of positive measures to assist States Parties
in meeting their obligations, is the right way to proceed. Absence
of an agreed action plan does not, of course, relieve any State
Party of its obligation under the Convention. Without such a plan,
States Parties will still hold each other accountable for meeting
these obligations, but will not have a framework for the positive
support and assistance that is so clearly needed. We hope that
the few states that have so far not accepted the proposed plan
will refrain from blocking consensus.
Compliance with the Convention means not only refraining from
prohibited activities, but also taking a number of active steps
to effectively implement the CWC. One example of such measures
is the review and updating of declarations, and we applaud the
recent steps taken by some States Parties in this regard -- including
the latest declared Possessor State. Article VII is central to
meaningful implementation. The United States has directly supported
the development of effective national implementation measures through
voluntary funding of projects undertaken by the ICA Division of
the Technical Secretariat and through bilateral contacts, responses
to States Party inquiries, participation in regional workshops,
the provision of cost-free experts to the Technical Secretariat,
and offers of bilateral assistance -- upon request -- for fulfilling
Article VII obligations. My delegation will be following up with
a number of States Parties who within the past several months have
expressed an interest in such assistance.
We also welcome the agreement that appears to be close on an action
plan for achieving universality. The number of states that have
become parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention has continued
to grow. Many of the states remaining outside the Convention are
hard targets that have yet to be persuaded of the security benefits
of renouncing chemical weapons, and it is important to have a clear
plan on how best we can convince these and other remaining non-States
Parties to join the Convention. Once again, on behalf of the United
States, I want to express our appreciation for the outstanding
work that has been done by the facilitator, Consuelo Femenía of
Spain. Her skill in working to achieve consensus on this important
document has been exemplary, and we are grateful for her efforts.
Important as agreement on these plans is, actually achieving results
in national implementation and universality is the real task. Over
the next few years member states have a lot of work to do. The
Executive Council and the Conference need to monitor the situation
carefully to ensure that the plans are faithfully carried out,
and hold States Parties accountable for meeting their implementation
obligations. For its part, the United States will contribute actively
to achieving positive results in both areas.
These action plans are a clear indication of the commitment and
spirit of cooperation among the States Parties. I pledge to you
Madame Chairperson that the U.S. delegation will work to foster
that spirit of cooperation at this Conference and in the coming
I would note, however, that there remain issues on which the Executive
Council has not been able to reach consensus and make a recommendation
to the Conference. The United States request for an extension of
its deadline for destruction of 45 percent of its Category 1 chemical
weapons stockpiles is one such issue. At the September Executive
Council session, the United States announced that, despite an intense
and genuine effort, we would be unable to meet the treaty-designated
deadline for destruction of 45 percent of our stockpile of chemical
Based on a number of factors, we opted to destroy the most unstable
chemical weapons first, rather than bulk containers. We would have
been much farther along in our destruction program if we had begun
by destroying bulk agent first. But at the outset, the U.S. chose
to first get rid of the most dangerous, difficult and slowest to
destroy of its stockpile.
Moreover, the U.S. believes that in submitting its request for
a new deadline, it was imperative to submit a date we could meet.
The December, rather than April, 2007 deadline, provides us a 90
percent confidence probability that this date can be met. Thus
we opted -- and this was the only reason we opted -- for the more
politically difficult date, and requested a deadline extension
of December 2007. We therefore submitted a request for an extension
per paragraph 22, part IV of the verification annex.
As I noted in September, I was, on the one hand, obviously disappointed
at having to make such a statement. But at the same time, and perhaps
paradoxically, I remain optimistic about our demilitarization program.
As I noted to the Executive Council, over this past summer, I had
the opportunity to travel to two of our demilitarization sites.
My optimism stems directly from these visits. In spite of unforeseen
setbacks and obstacles, significant progress is being achieved.
By any measure, we are making an all-out effort to eliminate our
stockpile of chemical weapons as rapidly as possible.
The progress that continues in spite of such setbacks and obstacles
is testimony to the U.S. commitment to the Convention and our unwavering
resolve to meet our responsibilities under it. I noted that in
making this announcement, the U.S. has stressed transparency. We
have explained in a very detailed presentation the state of each
of our demilitarization facilities and how each will contribute
to meeting the revised 45 percent deadline. And we will, of course,
continue to provide information about our progress, as has always
been our practice.
Madame Chairperson, we proposed a new 45 percent destruction date
that is realistically achievable. We have high confidence in our
ability to meet the revised deadline we have requested. Our confidence,
however, is not enough. And so from the outset, we have viewed
it as our responsibility to present a case for our extension request
that is so transparent and so compelling as to allow other States
Parties to be as confident in the new date as we are. We look forward
to its approval by the Conference during this session.
There are also important issues that the Executive Council has
not yet begun to address. One such is the effort to rationalize
and seek efficiencies in the verification regime as it applies
both to chemical weapons-related and industrial facilities. On
the chemical weapons side, we need an active discussion of ways
to improve the efficiency of monitoring chemical weapons destruction,
without decreasing the effectiveness of monitoring. We have developed
some ideas that we will be discussing with the Technical Secretariat
and member states.
On the industry side there are several issues that need to be
addressed in the coming year. One that has faced the OPCW each
year since entry-into-force is the significant number of States
Parties who continue not to meet their Article VI obligations for
submitting timely declarations. For the sixth straight year, the
Technical Secretariat reports that nearly one-third of reporting
States Parties missed the deadline for declarations of their past
activities. This situation adversely affects the selection of sites
for inspection [and], consequently, fair and effective verification.
I urge States Parties to make every effort to submit their declarations
in a timely fashion, and I urge this body to task the Executive
Council with the development of measures to redress the situation.
We also need to develop a common understanding on the inspectability
of so-called OCPF facilities during the first quarter of each calendar
year to ensure adequate verification capability, just as all other
categories of industrial facilities are inspectable in that period.
In closing, I would like to note that the U.S. is grateful that
the OPCW has taken steps to make a fresh start and look to the
future. The difficulties of the past should be put behind us. The
Director-General, the States Parties, and the delegations that
have been working tirelessly here in The Hague have all sought
to move the OPCW in the right direction. It's a good start.
Madame Chairperson, Mr. Director-General, staff of the Technical
Secretariat, Chairman of the Executive Council, and Distinguished
Representatives, the United States delegation looks forward to
working with you in the coming days, as we address the important
items on our agenda and as we work to reach the common goal of
a world without chemical weapons. Thank you, Madame Chairperson.