5 December 2006

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the eleventh session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, as delivered by Tim Caughley, Director, Department of Disarmament Affairs ( Geneva), at The Hague today, 5 December:

It is a pleasure to send greetings to the eleventh session of the Conference of State Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Since entering into force in 1997, the Convention has contributed to the steady destruction of declared chemical weapons stockpiles worldwide.  One hundred eighty countries -- home to 90 per cent of the world’s population -- are now 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.

Of course, ratification or accession are welcome first steps towards actual implementation.  Towards that end, while your current session will consider requests by five States for an extension of their stockpile destruction deadlines, I encourage all signatories to destroy these cruel and inhumane weapons within already established deadlines.  More broadly, it is crucial that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) receives full support.  States parties should enact appropriate national legislation to enforce the treaty, appoint a national authority to liaise with OPCW and other States parties, and ensure that the organization is properly resourced.

As you do so, 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.  To cite just two examples, the adoption of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy by the General Assembly and the implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 relating to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction show the determination of the Member States to keep such terrible weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists.

Weapons of mass destruction are one of man’s most terrible inventions.  Eliminating them would be one of mankind’s grandest accomplishments.  Let us, therefore, reenergize our efforts to banish these instruments of death.  Together, we can rid the world of chemical weapons, we can advance the cause of peace and security, and we can build a safer world for all.

In that spirit, please accept my best wishes for a successful session.

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For information media • not an official record