April 29th, 2007 09:31 EST
On anniversary of chemical weapons pact, Ban Ki-moon urges destruction of stockpiles
Marking the tenth anniversary of the Chemical Weapons Convention, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on countries that still possess these arms to abolish them.
“I call upon all possessor States to destroy their chemical weapons stockpiles according to the agreed deadlines,” Mr. Ban said in a message on the occasion. “I also urge all governments that have not yet done so to ratify or accede to the Convention without delay.”
The Secretary-General noted the progress that has been achieved of the past decade, pointing out that more than 25 per cent of declared chemical weapons stockpiles have been destroyed while the Convention now has 182 States Parties, covering 98 percent of the world's population.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which helps carry out the ban, “has made important gains in eliminating from the world an entire category of weapons of mass destruction,” the Secretary-General said.
The anniversary is also observed as Remembrance Day for Victims of Chemical Warfare, and in his message, Mr. Ban called for action on their behalf. “Let us honour the victims of chemical warfare, and redouble our efforts to ensuring that no life on earth will be lost ever again due to the use of chemical weapons.”
Formally known as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction, the treaty aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of these arms by States Parties.
The Convention is considered unique for its incorporation of the “challenge inspection,” which allows any State Party in doubt about another State Party's compliance to request the OPCW Director-General to send an inspection team. Under the Convention's “challenge inspection” procedure, States Parties have committed themselves to the principle of “any time, anywhere” inspections with no right of refusal.