Chairmanship of the Czech Republic in the Executive Council of the OPCW
22.01.2009 / 13:57
The Czech Republic, through the Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the OPCW, Ambassador Mr. P. Kubernát, chaired the Executive Council from May 2003 till May 2004.
Course of the Chairmanship
The Czech Republic, through the Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the OPCW, Ambassador Mr. P. Kubernát, chaired the Executive Council from May 2003 till May 2004. This was the highest post that a representative of the Czech Republic held in the OPCW organs so far. As a presiding country of the Executive Council, the Czech Republic aimed at contributing to a constructive solution of questions relating to the fulfilment of the Convention as well as actual problems faced by the OPCW as a very young international organisation founded in 1997.
Activities of the Executive Council carried out in the period of the Czech Chairmanship were significantly influenced, in the terms of their content, by the results of the First Review Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (The Hague, 28. 4. – 9. 5. 2003) convened in order to make a comprehensive evaluation of all aspects of fulfilment of the Convention six years after its entering into force and to define strategic direction for the forthcoming five-year period. Following the Conference conclusions, the Executive Council aimed especially at the steps leading to the universality of the Convention and a full implementation of the Convention requirements at the national level, control of chemicals transfer, optimisation of verification activities and necessary changes of administrative and financial aspects. Considerable impact on the agenda of the Executive Council had certain provisions and deadlines set forth by the Convention (especially intermediate deadlines for destruction of chemical weapons of Category 1 and the deadline for conversion of the facilities for chemical weapons production) as well as the tasks imposed by the previous Conferences or Executive Councils.
The principle decisions adopted by the Executive Council of the OPCW in the period of the Chairmanship of the Czech Republic are: the approval of the Action Plan for achievement of the universality of the Convention, adoption of recommendations for the Conference to approve the Action Plan for implementation of the Convention on the national level and the decision on extension of deadlines for destruction of chemical weapons of Category 1 in the case of three of their four main possessors. In the field of chemical disarmament, key success was the approval of certain plans of destruction and verification of chemical weapons, and conversion and verification plans, destruction and verification plans of some facilities for production of chemical weapons, respectively. The most successful result in the field of chemical industry was the approval of the document on the captive use for Schedule 2 and 3 chemicals of the Convention and the decision on procedure of clarification of discrepancies in declarations.
33rd session of the Executive Council (24 – 26 June 2003)
This was the first session of the Executive Council chaired by the Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic Ambassador Mr. P. Kubernát. With regard to the deadlines set forth by the Convention and the tasks imposed by the previous Conferences, the main items on the agenda were the implementation status of the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (including the Verification Implementation Report for 2002, national implementation, fulfilment of Article X of the Convention dealing with the assistance and protection against chemical weapons, and optimization of verification activities), destruction of chemical weapons and destruction/conversion of facilities for their production, questions concerning declarations in chemical industry, financial and budgetary questions (including further procedure in the matters of delayed payments for verification concerning chemical weapons and facilities for their production), issues of chemical industry (captive use and low concentrations of Schedule 2A and 2A* chemicals) and preliminary agenda of the forthcoming 8th Conference of States Parties. The Executive Council for the first time discussed the proposal of the OPCW budget for 2004 and the implementation of the results of the First Review Conference. The Chairman of the Executive Council pointed out, inter alia, the necessity to appoint facilitators for the individual working groups and called on the delegations to seek for suitable candidates for the hitherto unsolved problematic issues.
Decisions approving the plan of chemical weapons destruction and plans for conversion or destruction of facilities for their production belong among the most important ones adopted during 33rd Executive Council.
34th session of the Executive Council (23 – 26 September 2003)
33rd Executive Council was the last formal regular session before 8th Conference of States Parties and, thus, it was held with a view to preparing the remaining necessary decisions and recommendations of the EC for 8th Conference. Requests of three States Parties possessing chemical weapons (the U.S.A, the Russian Federation and a State Party) to extend deadlines for destruction of 45 % of chemical weapons of Category 1 were submitted for the first time to the EC. At the same time, completion of destruction of 45 % of chemical weapons of Category 1 in India (one of 4 main owners of chemical weapons) was confirmed. The Director-General of the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW focused in his speech, among others, on the issues of implementation of the tenure policy of the OPCW and on questions related to creation of Action Plans for achievement of universality and full implementation of the Convention on the national level.
Part of the decisions/recommendations submitted in compliance with the Convention on a regular or ad-hoc basis was adopted (inter alia, Report of the OPCW activities in 2002 and Report of the EC on its activities during the past year, Decision on proposed changes of the OPCW Financial Rules, Report of the Office of Internal Oversight, Audited financial data, Report of External auditor and Report of Director-General on use of the Working Capital Fund). Five other key issues in which consensus of opinion was not yet achieved, were postponed to 23rd extraordinary session of the Executive Council: this was the OPCW programme and budget for the year 2004, establishment of extended deadlines for destruction of 20 % of chemical weapons of Category 1 in the Russian Federation and extension of deadline for destruction of 45 % of chemical weapons of Category 1 by 3 of 4 main possessors of chemical weapons (the U.S.A, the Russian Federation and a State Party), Action Plans for universality of the Convention and implementation of the Convention at the national level and decision on captive use in chemical industry.
23rd meeting of the Executive Council (21 and 24 October 2003)
Complicated items on the agenda of 8th Conference of the States Parties (20 – 24 October 2003) were discussed in 23rd extraordinary meeting of the Executive Council during which the EC found consensus in 4 of 5 discussed issues: in the question of extended deadlines for the destruction of chemical weapons of Category 1, the EC recommended to fix the extended deadline for the destruction of 20 % Russian chemical weapons of Category 1 to 4/2007 and to extend the deadline for 45 % chemical weapons of Category 1 of a State Party (till 4/2007), the U.S.A (till 31.12.2007) and the Russian Federation (principal extension without any fixed deadline) and (under specified conditions) to extend principally the deadlines for the destruction of 100 % chemical weapons Category 1 for the U.S.A and the Russian Federation. Further, it recommended to approve the Action Plan for implementation of the Convention on the national level and the OPCW Programme and Budget for the year 2004 (the increase against 2003 makes 6.7 %, the initial proposal was 8.36 %) and approved the Action Plan for the universality of the Convention. It did not succeed to settle the matter of captive use in chemical industry.
23rd extraordinary meeting of the EC also discussed and adopted the report of the EC Chairman on the visit in the Russian Federation facilities intended, inter alia, for destruction of the first 20 % Russian chemical weapons of Category 1 and of his meetings with the responsible representatives of the Russian Federation.
8th session of Conference of the States Parties (20 – 24 October 2003)
The EC Chairman submitted to the Conference the Report of the EC activities in the previous year. In the general debate, the Czech Republic joined the EU statement and, with regard to significant national activities, made its own statement, too. The Czech Republic was appointed, elected respectively, member of two auxiliary bodies of 8th Conference (General Committee and the Credentials Committee) for the period till 5/2004, of 8th Conference of States Parties, respectively.
35th session of the Executive Council (2 – 5 December 2003)
Due to a relatively short time between 8th Conference of the States Parties and 35th Executive Council, consensus in a lot of important items on the agenda of 35th EC failed to be achieved. Positive results of 35th EC were: the approval of agreement on verification in one facility handling Schedule 1 chemicals, decision on inclusion of data in the list of data to the OPCW central analytical database and agreements on privileges and immunities of four State Parties with the Technical Secretariat. On the contrary, consensus failed to be achieved in the issues of detailed and combined plans for the destruction of chemical weapons and verification in some facilities in the Russian Federation and the U.S.A., notification of changes in conversion of former facilities for production of chemical weapons in the Russian Federation and in 2 issues of chemical industry. The issue of change in the budgeting method of the OPCW using the Results Based Budgeting method was widely discussed.
36th session of the Executive Council (23 – 26 March 2004)
The last regular session of the Executive Council under the Chairmanship of the Ambassador Mr. P. Kubernát was held in a very constructive atmosphere created partly thanks to the measures adopted within the effort to increase the effectiveness of the Executive Council. Libya – member of the OPCW since February 2004 and also the sixth State Party declaring its possession of chemical weapons (U.S.A., Russian Federation, India, Libya, Albania and another State Party) participated in the Executive Council as an observer for the first time.
The session succeeded in adopting many decisions in the field of destruction of chemical weapons and facilities for their production and their verification, the long-expected understanding on the concept of captive use in relation to the declaration of production/consumption of Schedule 2 and 3 chemicals and the decision concerning the list of approved inspection equipment. In the field of the Convention fulfilment, hitherto implementation of Action Plans for the universality of the Convention and for the implementation of the Convention on the national level was discussed as well as other necessary steps. It was recognized that success was achieved in the field of universality (among others the access of Libya possessing chemical weapons), but there was mentioned an instant need to increase the efforts of States Parties in the field of the implementation of the Convention on the national level – especially the need to notify such provisions of the Convention which are not fulfilled within the required deadlines as well as the offered assistance from other States Parties. The Executive Council took note of the report of the Technical Secretariat concerning the readiness for challenge inspections, determined further procedure in certain financial issues and confirmed continuation of consultations to the Results Based Budgeting to be introduced. It also discussed the first annual report of the Director-General of the Technical Secretariat on the implementation of tenure policy. New chairman (Mr. J. Arrospide/Peru – Latin American and Caribbean Regional Group) and vice-chairmen of the Executive Council (the Netherlands – Western-European and other countries Regional Group, Pakistan – Asian Regional Group, Algeria – African Regional Group, the Russian Federation – Eastern European Regional Group) were unanimously elected for the period 12. 5. 2004 – 11. 5. 2005.
Informal session and consultations of the Executive Council and other sessions chaired by the Chairman of the Executive Council
In the period May 2003 – May 2004, Ambassador Mr. P. Kubernát chaired, in his capacity of the Chairman of the Executive Council, not only regular sessions and extraordinary meetings of the Executive Council, but also lots of important informal sessions of the EC and consultations open to all States Parties (sessions of government experts in the field of chemistry, working group for fight against terrorism, consultations on the Verification Implementation Report, Report of the Executive Council activities and the Report on the OPCW activities, workshop on new OPCW budgeting, etc.). In the period from February to April, he, on the basis of his own initiative and supported by suggestions of other States, also chaired informal consultations open to all States Parties aimed at adoption of measures to increase the effectiveness of the Executive Council.
Meetings of Bureau of the Executive Council
Discharge of the office of the Executive Council Chairman was connected also with the Chairmanship of the „Bureau of the Executive Council“ meeting under the Chairmanship of the Czech Republic approximately once per month to discuss the progress in preparation of the items on the agenda for the forthcoming Executive Council and all current issues concerning the EC activity and the OPCW activity or relating to the bilateral negotiations with members of the Executive Council and the Technical Secretariat.
Visit by the Chairman of the Executive Council and by the States Parties experts group in the Russian Federation aimed at the progress evaluation of the Russian Federation in the process of destruction of chemical weapons of Category 1
In his capacity as EC Chairman, Ambassador Mr. P. Kubernát, accompanied by experts group of States Parties and the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW, made in October 2003 a visit to the Russian Federation aimed at evaluating the progress made in the process of destruction of chemical weapons of Category 1 in the Russian Federation. The visit included one already operating facility (Gorny) and two construction sites of the facilities for destruction of chemical weapons of Category 1 (Shchuchye and Kambarka), all intended, inter alia, for the destruction of the first 20 % of Russian chemical weapons of Category 1. He also had meeting with the Director-General of the Russian Munitions Agency – the body responsible in that time for timely implementation of the programme of chemical weapons destruction in the Russian Federation, the staff of the facilities for chemical weapons destruction and the representatives of local authorities.
Evaluation of the Chairmanship of the Czech Republic in the Executive Council of the OPCW
Based on the results of the EC sessions and the opinions and evaluations of States Parties and the Technical Secretariat, the Chairmanship of the Czech Republic in the OPCW Executive Council can be evaluated positively. States Parties welcomed especially an active approach of the Czech Republic, and appraised the organisation of consultations on improved and effective functioning of the Executive Council and considerably cooperated in practical implementation of their results (which had a positive impact proved during the last 36th session). Contrary to the previous Conferences, complicated unresolved issues to be dealt in 8th Conference of the States Parties in October 2002 remained in the discretion and coordination of the Executive Council which, having found consensus in 4 of 5 discussed issues, handed them directly to the Conference with respective recommendations. From the point of view of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in The Hague, the Chairmanship of the Czech Republic complemented the hitherto active contribution of the Czech Republic to the Convention implementation and the OPCW activities and further strengthened the good image of the Czech Republic in the field of non-proliferation of chemical weapons and in the fight against the weapons of mass destruction in general.
Very good cooperation among the Embassy of the Czech Republic in The Hague, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and the National Authority for the implementation of the Convention in the Czech Republic (the State Office for Nuclear Safety) contributed to the success achieved by the Chairmanship of the Czech Republic as well as their support in solving issues relating to organizational and financial provision of the Chairmanship and discussion about selected items of the agenda of the EC. Another very positive and appreciated element was the support and active approach from the part of all States Parties of the OPCW participating in the negotiations, the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW and all regional groups in the OPCW.