27 june / 2018

Statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry regarding a Special Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)

On June 27, a Special Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), convened at the initiative of a number of Western countries led by the UK, concluded its work in The Hague. As a result of political manipulations, direct bribery of a number of delegations and blatant blackmail, London and other pseudo-protectors of reinforcing the CWC managed to push through their odious draft decision, which will vest the Technical Secretariat of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) with the extrinsic authority to identify the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Moreover, the same document charges the Director-General of the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW with submitting proposals, at the Conference’s next regular session in November 2018, on establishing a similar investigation mechanism for providing other States Parties, at their request, technical assistance in identifying “perpetrators, organisers and sponsors” of the use of chemicals as weapons within the corresponding national territory.

We deem this decision illegitimate. We have to state that it is obvious that in taking the decision the Conference of States Parties stepped outside the scope of its mandate. Russia, which was one of the initiators of the Chemical Weapons Convention and which made the decision to join it, was part of a completely different organisation. The OPCW faced clearly defined tasks of providing technical assistance to national programmes of eliminating chemical arsenals. There existed a mechanism of introducing, if necessary, amendments to specific aspects of its activity, which was acceptable to all.

It should be recalled that the CWC is an arms control treaty that aims to refrain from developing, producing, purchasing, stockpiling, preserving and using chemical weapons, as well as from encouraging or inducing anyone to such activities. Article I of the CWC gives a comprehensive list of methods to deliver on these obligations – through conscientious implementation of solely technical measures aimed at physical destruction of chemical weapons and its production and storage facilities, and refusal to use chemical agents, used for riot control, as a method of warfare. The OPCW has a solely applicative role of providing the States Parties with technical and expert assistance in implementing the listed tasks and conducting verification procedures.

Thus, the Chemical Weapons Convention does not contain any clauses providing for the creation of a special mechanism to determine those responsible for the use of chemical weapons. We proceed from the fact that vesting the OPCW Technical Secretariat with similar powers without “unsealing” the text of the Convention and introducing amendments as envisaged by Article XV of the CWC is impossible by definition.

Aware of the futility of any attempts to secure approval by legal means for such amendments, which, in fact, intrude on the UN Security Council’s competence, the UK and countries that stand in solidarity with it resorted to downright fraud, a cynical substitution of the true goals and tasks of the CWC, by pushing through this illegal decision of the Conference of the States Parties. The fact that one of the key goals of the Convention – the comprehensive destruction of chemical weapons – has still not been achieved is being hypocritically hushed up. The truth that none other than a Western country that still has the most powerful arsenal of toxic chemicals, while constantly postponing its disposal deadlines, is violating its CWC commitments is being thoroughly concealed.

The initiators of this illegitimate decision are diverting attention to an absolutely different task, namely determining those responsible for alleged chemical incidents. Using dirty methods, they forced 82 countries to support the British draft and will now try to impose their harmful viewpoint on the remaining 111 states, the conscientious parties to the CWC.

We are convinced that this blatant abuse of the rules of procedure, the disruption of the consensus spirit inherent in the global disarmament and non-proliferation mechanisms and disregard for the position of all other equal CWC States Parties is deepening the split inside the OPCW and jeopardises the integrity of the CWC, as well as efforts to maintain the global regime of chemical disarmament and non-proliferation of chemical weapons.

We are grateful to all countries that, like Russia, stood up to protect international law and the fundamental principles of interstate relations and opposed the odious British draft resolution of the Conference of the States Parties, the consequences of which all of us will now have to overcome.