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Disarmament Diplomacy No. 71, Cover design by Paul Aston

Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 71, June - July 2003

CWC Report

The CWC After Its First Review Conference: Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

By Alexander Kelle


From April 28 to May 9, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) - composed of the 151 states parties to the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Technical Secretariat (TS) set up by Article VIII of that Convention - held the first Review Conference of the CWC. The Conference, held at OPCW headquarters in The Hague, marked the culmination of a process commencing in May 2001, when the Sixth Session of the Conference of States Parties (CSP) to the OPCW tasked the Executive Council (EC) of the Organisation to begin preparations for the gathering.1 To this end, at its 26th session in September 2001, the EC established an open-ended Working Group for the preparation of the Review Conference (WGRC).

The review of the operation of the CWC is mandated in the Convention's eighth article, dealing with 'The Organisation'. Article VIII, paragraph 22 reads: "The Conference shall no later than one year after the expiry of the fifth and the tenth year after entry into force of this Convention, and at such other times within that time as may be decided upon, convene in special sessions to undertake reviews of the operation of this Convention. Such reviews shall take into account any relevant scientific and technological developments. At intervals of five years thereafter, unless otherwise decided upon, further sessions of the Conference shall be convened with the same objective."

In addition, Part IX (paragraph 26) of the Verification Annex contains a requirement that: "At the first special session of the Conference convened pursuant to Article VIII, Paragraph 22, the provisions of this part of the Verification Annex shall be re-examined in the light of a comprehensive review of the overall verification regime for the chemical industry (Article VI, Parts VII to IX of this Annex) on the basis of the experience gained. The Conference shall make recommendations so as to improve the effectiveness of the verification regime."

The remainder of the paper will be organised in three parts, the first of which will cover the preparatory phase leading up to the Review Conference. Here, activities by both the OPCW and its states parties as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) will be presented. The second part will describe and assess the Review Conference itself. This will by and large follow the thematic division into sub-sections as developed by the Director General (DG), Rogelio Pfirter, in his note to the Review Conference.2 The final part of the paper will summarise the results and conduct of the First CWC Review Conference.

I. The Preparatory Phase of the Review Process

The WGRC held thirty meetings between November 2001 and March 2003.3 The Working Group initially concentrated on formal and procedural issues, such as the opening date and duration of the Review Conference, the level of attendance at the Conference (should ministers or their designees attend?), and questions surrounding the attendance of NGOs.

One of the questions to be answered was whether the Review Conference should follow an article-by-article approach when reviewing the operation of the CWC, or whether issues should be grouped together in clusters by the WGRC. Eventually, a compromise was agreed upon, combining the two approaches. In the autumn of 2002, the process of dealing with substantive issues began, aided by the provision and discussion of various background documents provided by the TS. Starting with the 14th meeting of the WGRC in October 2002, the discussions on substantive issues led to the drafting of notes on the discussions of the Group by its chair, Ambassador Alberto Davérède of Argentina. These notes - together with 32 national papers by 17 states parties4 - then formed the basis for both the Consolidated Chairman's Text and the Draft Political Declaration he submitted to the Review Conference.5 In addition to these two documents, intended to aid in structuring the deliberations and the possible outcome of the Conference, delegates arrived in The Hague in late April in possession of seven Background Papers submitted by the TS to the Conference6 as well as two notes by the Director General.7

In April 2002, the WGRC chair sent out a letter inviting 38 NGOs to participate in the review process by submitting written contributions to the TS. Seven NGOs8 responded positively and submitted a total of 12 substantive documents addressing inter alia the maximisation of the security benefits to be derived from the Review Conference, relevant scientific and technological developments for consideration, the implementation of the general purpose criterion, the importance of national implementing legislation for effective implementation of the Convention, and the dangers to the CWC from incapacitating chemicals.9

One of the NGO submissions - the study undertaken by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) - dealt specifically with one of the main tasks bestowed upon the Review Conference by the text of the CWC: the review of the impact of developments in chemical science and technology on the implementation of the Convention. The report is based on an IUPAC meeting from June 30 to July 3, 2002. During the workshop, "recent technical developments and...the state of the art in several areas of organic synthesis, industrial chemical processing, and analytical chemistry methodologies" were discussed by participants, and five "key scientific and technological areas that should be taken into account at the First Review Conference"10 were identified. These are: technical challenges to the Convention, analytical techniques for routine and challenge inspections as well as investigations of alleged use of CW, technical capability of the TS, education and outreach, and issues related to CW-destruction.

Likewise, a NATO Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) was held in September 2002 in Bratislava in the run-up to the Review Conference with the aim to "critically review the new scientific and technological developments of relevance" to the CWC. The workshop was co-hosted by the Department for the Control of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Slovak Ministry of Economy, and the Department of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford.11 The ARW addressed scientific and technological issues for the First Review Conference, both in a general sense and as they relate to the effectiveness of the Convention's verification regime, considered scientific and technological challenges to the CWC, and discussed "how the effectiveness of the verification regime and the implementation of the general purpose criterion could be improved"12 in order to maximise the security benefits that the Review Conference might yield for states.

It should also be mentioned that the Pugwash Study Group on the Implementation of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions devoted three of its workshops to the CWC Review Conference.13 The third of these workshops took place immediately before the Conference itself, on April 26 and 27. It addressed the implementation of the CWC hitherto and identified matters to be tackled henceforth, such as industry and trade issues, states not yet party to the CWC, and the problem of law enforcement.

The United Nations Institute of Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) published a special issue of its quarterly journal Disarmament Forum on the topic of the Review Conference. Issue areas covered include an evaluation of the CWC verification system, the question of universality, the problem of non-lethal weapons and the organisational culture of the OPCW TS.14 Finally, the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute (CBACI) held a one-day workshop on the Review Conference on March 19. It addressed inter alia ways to promote CWC universality, the question of challenge inspections, Russian compliance with the CWC, the future of industry inspections, and relevant advances in science and technology.15

This summary clearly demonstrates the wealth of information and analyses available to delegates as they set about their work. Against the background of the many efforts undertaken in the run-up to the Conference, the supposedly "under-researched" nature of any of the crucial issues before the Conference could hardly have be used as an excuse for a flawed, half-hearted or unsuccessful review. Instead, as one analysis has pointed out, the "success of the Review Conference ... will depend directly upon the level of political commitment given to the Conference by States Parties."16 (emphasis added.)

II. The First CWC Review Conference

One hundred and ten of the 151 states parties to the OPCW participated in the First CWC Review Conference. In addition, two signatory states, two non-states parties, five international organisations and bodies, 22 NGOs, and six industry associations were approved by the Conference as participants. During the first two and a half days of the Conference, 52 states parties spoke during the General Debate, three of which delivered statements on behalf of groups of states.17 In addition, a message from the Secretary General of the United Nations was read to the delegates.

The Conference got off to a somewhat bumpy start on the opening day when one state party, Iran, utilized its right of reply in the General Debate after the US had accused it - together with three non-states parties to the CWC, Libya, Syria, and North Korea - of stockpiling and "actively ... pursuing chemical weapons."18 The Iranian delegate categorically rejected the US accusations,19 arguing that it was Washington, not Tehran, which bore responsibility in recent years for withdrawing from, weakening or refusing to embrace multilateral agreements. Likewise, the Iranian statement continued, it was the US national legislation which ran contrary to the Convention. A previous Iranian CW capability, the riposte concluded, had been developed in response to Western indifference to Iraqi CW use against Iran in the 1980s; all relevant material and facilities, including CW production sites, had been declared to the OPCW and destroyed under its verification.

The remainder of this section will largely be structured along the lines of the thematic subdivision of the Director General's note to the Review Conference (see endnote 2). In addition to five of the sections contained in this document - the comprehensive prohibition of CW and their worldwide elimination; non-proliferation and non-production of CW; consultation, cooperation and fact-finding; international cooperation; and functioning of the OPCW - the review of scientific and technological developments of relevance to the CWC will be addressed separately. Each sub-section will highlight some of the contributions to the respective issue areas made in the Note by the DG to the Conference, comments made in the General Debate by states parties, and language for the Review Document of the Conference as it developed over the course of the Conference itself.20

The Comprehensive Prohibition of CW and Their Worldwide Elimination

Since its entry into force in April 1997, 151 states have become party to the CWC and thus members of the OPCW.21 It was generally acknowledged that this represents significant progress on the way towards universal adherence, but that, at the same time, much remains to be done in order to achieve truly global coverage. Yet, while some pointed to the security interests of states not party to the CWC as the motivation for their abstention, others found the reasons to be lying in the lack of benefits to be derived from the Convention, especially for developing states, thereby preparing the ground for their complaints of unfair treatment and the need to increase OPCW activities in the area of international cooperation and assistance (ICA) (see below).22 Likewise, the link between universality and compliance with all obligations resulting from CWC membership was widely referred to.23

Declaration and subsequent destruction of chemical weapons is one of the core tasks of the CWC. Since the entry-into-force of the accord (April 29, 1997), five states parties have declared CW possession.24 Destruction activities are progressing according to schedule in three of them, and the Russian Federation announced during the Review Conference that it recently had completed the destruction of one percent of its CW arsenal.25 This represents the target for the first intermediate destruction deadline, which according to Part IV (A) of the CWC's verification Annex had to be achieved three years after entry-into-force. While most references to CW destruction activities and the need to keep to the timelines foreseen in the CWC were couched in generic terms, the UK was among the few to explicitly express "disappointment at the delays in [Russia] meeting even this modest target some three years late".26 With respect to the extension of the final destruction deadline for all CW stocks (April 29, 2007, ten years after entry-into-force), which was granted to the Russian Federation by the EC in October 2002, Malaysia - speaking on behalf of the NAM states parties and China - pointed out that the progress of destruction and the new timelines approved "should be monitored closely by the policy making organs of the OPCW".27

With respect to the verification of CW, CW production facilities, and the destruction of CW stockpiles, it has become evident that existing methods and approaches to implementing the verification provisions of the Convention will soon no longer suffice, with more (and more large-scale) destruction facilities coming on-line in both the US and the Russian Federation in the next few years. As pointed out in the note of the Director General to the Conference, the "verification methodology applied at chemical weapons destruction facilities ... needs to be reviewed if the verification regime as a whole is to remain sustainable and affordable."28 With respect to the cost of CW-related verification activities of the OPCW, Brazil pointed to an issue of long-standing and continuing dispute when it complained that it is "no longer acceptable that all states parties...keep making resources available for the monitoring of destruction of chemical weapons without any assurance that these resources will be reimbursed" by the possessor states.29

The Review Document30 inter alia reaffirms the obligation of the CW possessors to destroy their arsenals, while all other states parties are called upon to support these efforts and provide assistance where possible. Concerning the verification of CW destruction activities, the Conference merely "noted" that possessor states can examine possibilities for bilateral verification agreements - a wording sought by the US, according to which the Conference "encouraged" CW possessors to do so, did not meet with the consensus agreement of the Conference.

With respect to the conversion of former CW production facilities (CWPFs) a clause contained in the draft of the WGRC chair referring to the deadline - which has already passed - contained in the CWC for the completion of converting such facilities was dropped. On the other hand, the Conference reiterated the obligation of states possessing converted former CWPFs to report annually for ten years on the activities at those sites and to open them to inspection. The impact of implementing this provision of the Verification Annex will be felt most acutely by the Russian Federation, which had nine conversion requests approved by the Seventh regular Session of the Conference of States Parties alone.31

Non-Proliferation and Non-Production of Chemical Weapons

The non-proliferation objectives of the CWC are to be achieved through a system of declaration and verification measures related to the peaceful applications of chemistry, mostly in chemical industries, of states parties.

Ever since the Convention's entry-into-force, a large number of states parties has lagged behind in submitting even the most basic notifications and declarations to the OPCW. Although some of the gaps have closed over time, the state of affairs in this regard is still dismal, as some of the documents available to the Review Conference clearly show: at the end of 2002 a mere 56 percent of states parties - 82 - had notified the TS of their national implementing legislation.32 As a UK national paper pointed out with reference to the fact-finding activities of the TS, "10 states parties reported having no legislation in place to enforce any of the obligations under Article I. Moreover this worrying situation could apply in some or all of the...states parties that did not reply to the questionnaire" circulated by the TS.33

As this poor performance by states parties also extends to declarations under Article VI, related to activities not prohibited under the CWC, it was identified by the DG as one of three areas to further optimise the non-proliferation dimension of the OPCW's work - besides the agreement on outstanding declaration issues and ways to increase the effectiveness of the system, for example through the introduction of 'nil declarations' in case a state party has nothing to declare.34

Another issue generating concern and unease is the question of "other chemical production facilities" (OCPFs) producing discreet organic chemicals (DOCs). This is also the area where the impact of recent technological developments on the review process could be felt most acutely. Since entry-into-force, 58 states parties have declared almost 4,000 inspectable DOC-producing OCPFs. Of these facilities, around 100 had received inspections by the end of 2002. From the point of view of the TS these inspections have "shown that there are ... some that are highly relevant to the object and purpose of the Convention. These facilities produce chemicals that are structurally related to Schedule 1 chemicals. Of particular relevance to the Convention are facilities that combine this kind of chemistry with production equipment and other hardware designed to provide flexibility and containment."35

The recognition of these new developments in chemical industry lies at the heart of calls for an adaptation of the industry verification regime. However, that this assessment is not universally shared by states parties became clear during the General Debate when Pakistan demanded that an "[i]ncrease in emphasis on verification...of facilities producing relatively harmless discreet organic chemicals (DOCs) should not be at the expense of higher risk Schedule 1, 2 and 3 chemicals listed in the Annex to the CWC."36, 37 Another attempt at limiting the flexibility of the industry verification regime was made by India, which demanded that "inspection efforts under Article VI should be based only on information provided voluntarily by states parties declarations."38

In the Review Document, the Conference confirmed the essential role of national legislation for the proper functioning of the Convention. It "called upon states parties that have not already done so, to inform the OPCW by the next regular session of the Conference of the status" of their national implementation measures. With respect to Article VI declarations, the Conference stressed that annual declarations by states parties had to be accurate, complete, and submitted on time. Furthermore the Conference - following an explicit reference to the work undertaken by the Convention's Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) - confirmed the "need to ensure an adequate inspection frequency and intensity" for each category of Article VI facilities. This should allow the redirection of industry inspection towards the group of OCPF that pose the greatest risk to the objects and purposes of the Convention.

Consultation, Cooperation, and Fact-Finding

In addition to the routine verification system set up by the CWC, the Convention's Article IX provides for a range of consultation mechanisms, ranging from informal bilateral consultations to full-fledged challenge inspections and investigations of alleged use of CW. Since entry-into-force, only the "lower end" of this spectrum of tools has been utilized. The United States, for example, "has utilized the consultative provisions of Article IX on numerous occasions to address our compliance concerns often with great success."39 Clarification mechanisms involving the Executive Council, and thus having a somewhat higher profile, have not been utilised, nor have any requests for challenge inspections or investigations of alleged use been brought before the OPCW.40

Challenge inspections were taken up by a number of speakers in the General Debate of the Conference. On behalf of the European Union (EU), Greece pointed out that "challenge inspections must remain a credible instrument of the Convention."41 A more restrictive approach was pursued by Malaysia - speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and China - which claimed that challenge inspections "should be undertaken as a last resort and as part of the process of consultation and fact-finding."42 This view was categorically rejected by the UK, which insisted that "there must be a possibility that inspections can be requested and conducted at any time" without the requirement of prior consultations. The EU put forward a working paper to the Conference, in which this interpretation is supported by a detailed legal analysis.43

The Review Document, having reiterated parts of the DG's report referred to above, in true diplomatic fashion neither emphasised that challenge inspections could be undertaken without prior consultations, nor stipulated that challenge inspections should always be preceded by a consultation process (which would have been a rather awkward interpretation of the CWC's text). Rather, the Document says that "without prejudice to the right of any state party to request a challenge inspection, states parties should, whenever possible, first make every effort to clarify and resolve, through exchange of information and consultation among themselves" any compliance concern.

International Cooperation

The OPCW's international cooperation and assistance (ICA) activities can be grouped in three main categories: "facilitation of scientific and technical exchanges between states parties... capacity building in relation to the sound management of chemicals for peaceful purposes; and capacity building directly related to the implementation of the provisions of the Convention".44 Over the past five years, the scope and budget of the Technical Secretariat's international cooperation activities has grown considerably.45

Yet these developments did not stop a number of states parties criticising achievements in the area to date, or from pressing for more ICA activities to take place. India complained of the "slow progress in getting international cooperation and assistance into full operational mode, with adequate resources and programmes that act as a genuine magnet for non-states parties and signatory states to ratify the Convention."46 In similar vein, South Africa argued that international cooperation "has, for far too long, remained a peripheral feature of this disarmament Convention."47 However, South Africa also hit the nail on the head by referring to the CWC as a "disarmament Convention": it is exactly this understanding that leads a large number of state parties to reject what they see as demands for an ICA 'free-for-all'. South Korea, for example, stressed that the "cost-effectiveness of the ICA programs should be further enhanced and budget allocation for ICA programs should be based on strict evaluations of programs."48 Similarly, the UK pointed out that ICA "is aimed solely at enhancing the security of the states parties. It is not an end in itself."49

The Review Document, again, reaffirmed the basic ICA provisions and states parties' commitment to them. It went on to recall that all ICA programmes "should be improved through evaluations to optimise resource utilisation and effectiveness". The Conference also "concluded that...budgetary allocations for international cooperation should be based on the states parties' needs, and how the programme addresses these needs". However, language contained in the WGRC chairman's consolidated text50, stressing the "need that any assistance provided does not serve any action in contravention of Article I", obviously went too far for some delegations and was not included.

Also related to the issue of ICA are questions concerning trade regulations. According to Article XI, implementation of the Convention shall not hamper the economic and technological development of states parties and shall instead promote chemical trade among states parties for peaceful purposes. Not surprisingly, the Review Conference saw a replay of the decades-old debate about whether the Australia Group (AG) violated the stipulations of the CWC and should be abolished without delay - or whether the AG represents an important instrument of CWC states parties to fulfil their non-proliferation obligations stemming from the Convention.51 The distribution of roles in this almost ritualistic exchange of arguments was entirely predictable: Brazil, India, Iran, Malaysia (on behalf of the NAM and China) and Pakistan criticised the AG; the UK and the US, among others, defended the need for its continued existence.52

Given the hardened fronts in this debate, the Review Document is confined to a reiteration of text contained in the CWC, urging the EC to "continue its facilitation efforts to reach early agreement on the issue of the full implementation of Article XI".

Functioning of the OPCW

The OPCW is made up of its Technical Secretariat and its states parties. These come together as the Conference of States Parties and a subset thereof, the Executive Council, usually referred to jointly as the Policy Making Organs (PMO) of the Organisation. In the course of the OPCW's short history, much has been achieved by each these bodies individually as well as through their interplay. At the same time, the OPCW has experienced a number of severe difficulties, notably the financial crisis of 2001 and the ousting of the first Director General, José Bustani (see endnote 2) in April 2002. The latter of these two episodes had a particularly detrimental effect, detracting time, energy and attention away from early preparations for the Review Conference.

In sum, there were a number of issues related to the OPCW's functioning which could have been subjected to a critical review by the Conference. Yet, remarkably, the only critical comment by a state party in reference to the relationship between states parties and the TS came from the Russian Federation, which confessed to be "solidly in favour of maintaining the independence of the Technical Secretariat's work", and continued to "urge other countries to refrain from attempting to influence the Technical Secretariat with a view to...receiving unilateral advantages"53 - a clear reference, above all, to the US-led removal of the OPCW's first DG, bitterly opposed by Moscow at the time.

The Director General's Note to the Review Conference picks up some of these issues, pointing out that six years after the CWC's entry into force, there are unresolved issues "where the Convention's legal framework still needs to be completed".54 Their resolution, as I have argued elsewhere, remains elusive in part due to a "culture of deferral"55 which has co-evolved with the EC; a reluctance to grasp thorny and potentially divisive issues in a timely and effective fashion.

With a view to the work of one of the subsidiary bodies - the Scientific Advisory Board - the Director General pointed out, that "improvements can be made by providing for more interaction and feedback between the SAB and member states".56 Interestingly enough, one state party, Pakistan, saw the need to caution that "technical bodies, such as the Scientific Advisory Board, in which developing countries lack adequate trained participation, should not attempt to suggest lines of action which would have the effect of amending the provisions of the Convention."57

Finally, the Director General draws attention in his Note to the OPCW's relations with civic society and acknowledges that the Organisation "should further enhance its relationship" with representatives of civic society, including NGOs.

The Review Document - not surprisingly - does not refer to any of the above-mentioned crises. Likewise, mention of the EC's inability to reach decisions on issues languishing on its agenda since 1997, including those that the Conference is required to take in order to allow the Convention's proper functioning, is couched in very moderate language. The same applies for the "interaction between the SAB and delegations" which "should continue and be further enhanced". Finally, the positive remarks of the DG on the interaction with civic society in general, and NGOs in particular, found their way into both the Political Declaration of the Conference and its Review Document - although the mentioning of civic society in the Review Document appears in paragraph 108(g) under the heading of "Agenda Item 7(c)(viii) Economic and technological development", which seems to strangely limit the area where civic society is assumed to be able to make a useful contribution to the CWC's implementation.

Review of Relevant Scientific and Technological Developments

As has been pointed out, the review of relevant scientific and technological (S&T) developments by the Review Conference is not only explicitly mandated by the CWC, it also received widespread attention in the preparatory phase of the Conference, both by organs of the OPCW, such as the SAB, and by NGOs. With the opening of the Conference, however, the S&T issues went almost completely underground, as they were fed into a number of components of the review of the CWC's operation. However, S&T issues - more specifically the Report of the SAB as submitted to the Conference by the Director General - resurfaced in the Review Document both in the sections on general verification provisions and on activities not prohibited under the CWC.

One S&T issue, which received considerable attention in the run-up to the meeting, was almost completely suppressed during the Conference: the question of chemical incapacitants and so-called "non-lethal chemical weapons", in which some CWC states parties recently have shown an increasing interest. Although two states parties - New Zealand and Switzerland - made explicit reference to "non-lethal" weapons during the General Debate, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), whose statement was focusing on incapacitants, was not allowed to address the plenary. As a result, the only opportunity to discuss these matters publicly arose with the Open Forum on the Chemical Weapons Convention, hosted by the TS and supported by a number of NGOs. The Open Forum included a panel discussion on "The Chemical Weapons Ban and the Use of Incapacitants in Warfare and Law Enforcement".

It comes as no surprise, then, that informal discussions among delegations showed that the time was not ripe for the inclusion of any language explicitly referring to incapacitants or "non-lethal weapons" in the text of the Review Document. However, the Document did contain language in relation to the definitions in Article II of the Convention, pointing out that these were found by the Conference to adequately cover developments in science and technology. In addition, the Conference tasked the Council to consider developments in relation to new chemicals that may be relevant to the CWC.

III. Assessing the Outcome of the First CWC Review Conference

After two weeks of meetings, the First Review Conference of the CWC was able to agree on two documents: the Political Declaration and the Review Document. Given the current climate surrounding international arms control, this in and of itself can only be judged a major accomplishment - an outcome made all the more remarkable in light of the "naming of names" by the US delegation and the Iranian reply at the beginning of the meeting, which threatened to poison the atmosphere and could easily have undermined participants' willingness to compromise. That this threat did not materialise is in no small part due to the excellent preparatory work undertaken by the chair of the WGRC and his counterpart in the Technical Secretariat.

Two crucial questions especially in relation to the more substantive, 134-paragraph Review Document are: 1) to what extent did states parties step back from the day-to-day operation of the CWC regime and undertake a self-critical evaluation of the operation of the Convention; and 2) how forward-looking a document is it? Only a positive answer to both of these questions would justify us in describing the outcome of the Conference as positive in substantive terms.

With respect to states parties having critically evaluated their own individual and collective performance in implementing the CWC, there was a clear trend towards papering over past shortcomings. This ranged from the presentation by the Russian Federation of its recent destruction of 1 percent of Category 1 CW stocks - without acknowledging that this achievement came three years late - to much more subtle manoeuvres to get bits and pieces of text removed from the draft Review Document, which would have made it clear that some countries had not lived up to their obligations. A second, related phenomenon was a tendency by some to divert attention from their own records on compliance by focusing on the need for the OPCW to maintain an unchanged, rigid approach to verification and inspections - opposing, for example, the re-focusing of industry declarations, or any relaxation of the verification of CW destruction activities. A third issue in relation to the evaluation of past performance relates to the types of subjects being discussed and the willingness, or lack thereof, of states parties to review and shift policy. Here, the similarity between topics raised and positions held during the most recent regular session of the CSP last October and the Review Conference is revealing, suggesting that a large number of delegations were stuck in 'business-as-usual' mode, not inclined to take the step back necessary to look at the CWC's operation in more generic terms.

More curious were the debates surrounding the first paragraphs of both the Political Declaration and the Review Document, reflecting but also differing from the first paragraph of the CWC's Preamble. Interestingly enough, the Preamble's mention of "effective progress towards general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control, including the prohibition and elimination of all types of weapons of mass destruction" did not command the consensus of the Conference and was thus omitted from both the Review Document and Political Declaration. Since chemical and biological weapons are already prohibited, some nuclear weapon states must presumably have felt "threatened" by a potential spill-over into the nuclear non-proliferation regime from having this wording accepted. Reportedly, attempts by New Zealand to have the language on "general and complete disarmament" de-coupled from the reference to WMD did not help the resolution of the matter.

Fortunately, matters look more positive when it comes to the forward-looking character of the Review Document, even if only at second glance. Unlike, for example, the Principles and Objectives agreed upon at the 1995 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review and Extension Conference, or the plan of action agreed at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, the CWC Document contains no neat, clearly-compiled set of goals and yardsticks. But then, the unhappy fate of the NPT documents to date are well known; such clear direction is evidently no guarantor of success or progress. What the Review Document does contain, however, are a number of steps to be undertaken by either the Conference of States Parties at its next regular session, the Executive Council, the Technical Secretariat, or two or more of the OPCW's organs working together. Of the 134 paragraphs, more than 50 spell out tasks to improve the future implementation of the Convention, assigning them to at least one of the OPCW's organs, states parties in general or specific groups of states parties.

Admittedly, a few of these task assignments carry the qualifier "voluntary", and many do not have a delivery date attached to them. Still, it is an impressive list that acknowledges the gaps in implementing the CWC, points the way in many areas for improving performance, and represents the minimum standard against which future implementation will have to be judged. Now it is up to the OPCW and its states parties to follow-up effectively and without undue delay or prevarication.

In sum, while the First CWC Review Conference was dominated to a considerable degree by the pursuit of national self-interest, this did not lead to the effectiveness of the Convention being undermined - a fear expressed by New Zealand during the General Debate. As the preceding discussion of critical issues should have made clear, this is not to say that all is well. Rather - as suggested by a number of states, perhaps most forcefully South Africa - we are faced here with the more general phenomenon that the fundamental premises and principles of multilateralism in the disarmament and non-proliferation field are currently under threat. It is, however, by no means just the policies of the Bush administration which are causing difficulties in this regard, as some would have us believe. There are, in fact, clear suggestions that some states are using this tactic of blaming the White House for all the world's arms control woes as a convenient cover to disguise their own limited interest in pursuing a truly multilateral approach to the problems facing the CWC today and in the next few years. Still, if compared with other disarmament and non-proliferation regimes, the CWC is faring well. In this larger context, the answer to the question raised in the title is easy and straightforward: the glass is definitely half-full.

Notes and References

1. See the Report of the Sixth Session of the CSP, OPCW document C-VI/6, The Hague, May 19, 2001.

2. See Working Group for the Preparation of the First Review Conference: Consolidated Chairman's Text. Agenda Item 7 of the Provisional Agenda of the First Review Conference, OPCW document RC-1/CRP.1, April 17, 2003. Rogelio Pfirter, previously Argentina's Ambassador to the OPCW, became Director General in July 2002, following the removal of José Bustani of Brazil at a Special Session of the Conference of States Parties in The Hague in April that year. For background to, and coverage of, this turbulent period, see the 'News Review' section of Disarmament Diplomacy No. 64, May/June 2002, pp. 28-33. For analysis of the aftermath of the drama, see Fiona Tregonning, 'CWC Report: Emerging From A Trial By Fire? A Report and Analysis of the Seventh Session of the Conference of States Parties', in Disarmament Diplomacy, No.67, October/November 2002, pp. 10-17.

3. See Report of the Working Group for the Preparation of the First Chemical Weapons Convention Review Conference, OPCW document WGRC-1/5, The Hague, March 19, 2003.

4. See OPCW documents WGRC-1/5 and WGRC-1/5/Add.1 of March 19 and April 28, 2003, respectively.

5. See Working Group for the Preparation of the First Review Conference: Chairman's Text. Draft Political Declaration of the First Review Conference, OPCW document RC-1/CRP.2, April 15, 2003. On the consolidated text, see endnote 2.

6. See Background Paper on the Conduct of Inspections Under the Chemical Weapons Convention and Related Issues, OPCW document RC-1/S/1, April 17, 2003; Background Paper on International Cooperation Programmes, OPCW document RC-1/S/2, April 22, 2003; Implementation Support, OPCW document RC-1/S/3, April 13, 2003; Background Paper on Assistance and Protection Programmes, OPCW document RC-1/S/4, April 24, 2003; Background Paper on Universal Adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention, OPCW document RC-1/S/5, April 25, 2003; Background Paper. Consolidated Unclassified Verification Implementation Report (April 1997 - 31 December 2002), OPCW document RC-1/S/6, April 25, 2003; Background Paper on the Implementation of the Confidentiality Regime, OPCW document RC-1/S/7, April 25, 2003.

7. See Note by the Director General to the First Review Conference, OPCW document RC-1/DG.1, April 17, 2003, and Note by the Director General. Report of the Scientific Advisory Board on Developments in Science and Technology, OPCW document RC-1/DG.2, April 23, 2003.

8. The seven NGOs were: the Harvard-Sussex Program on CBW Armament & Arms Limitation, the Department of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford, the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC), the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), and the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA).

9. See Report of the Working Group for the Preparation of the First Chemical Weapons Convention Review Conference, OPCW document WGRC-1/5, March 19, 2003, plus the Addendum to this document, WGRC-1/5/Add.1, April 28, 2003.

10. See IUPAC: Impact of Scientific Devlopments on the Chemical Weapons Convention. Report by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, available on the IUPAC website at http://www.iupac.org/publications/pac/2002/pdf/7412x2323.pdf, also published in Pure and Applied Chemistry, Vol.74, No.12, 2002, pp.2323-2352.

11. For a summary of the workshop see Graham S. Pearson, Maximizing the Security Benefits from the First Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention, First CWC Review Conference Paper No.2, Bradford: Department of Peace Studies, December 2002.

12. Ibid., p.3.

13. Pugwash meetings are closed to the public. However, a report of the first two of the three meetings was published in the Pugwash newsletter and are available at http://www.pugwash.org/reports/rc/rc12.htm and http://www.pugwash.org/reports/cbw/cbw17.htm.

14. The issue (No.4, 2002) is available at http://www.unidir.ch/bdd/fiche-periodique.php?ref_periodique=1020-7287-2002-4-en.

15. See Michael Moodie and Isabelle Williams: The CWC Review Conference: Issues and Opportunities, Special Report 6, Washington, D.C.: CBACI, 2003, available on the CBACI website at http://www.cbaci.org.

16. Ibid., p.5.

17. These states were: Greece, speaking on behalf of the European Union and acceeding and associated countries, and of Iceland and Norway; Malaysia, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and China; and Nigeria, speaking on behalf of the African Group.

18. See US Delegation to the OPCW: United States of America, National Statement to the First Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention by Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Stephen G. Rademacher, The Hague, April 28, 2003, p.3.

19. See Islamic Republic of Iran: Reply to United States, available on the OPCW website at http://www.opcw.org/html/global/docs_frameset.html.

20. The latter process is difficult to trace, as the deliberations of the Committee of the Whole were conducted behind closed doors and were not accessible to NGO representatives.

21. On May 7, 2003 Timor Leste (East Timor) deposited its instruments of accession and will thus become the 152nd CWC state party on June 6; see OPCW, Timor Leste Joins the Chemical Weapons Convention, Press Release No.10/2003, The Hague.

22. See, for example, Statement by Ambassador Priscilla Jana, Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Africa at the First Special Session of the Conference of the States Parties to Review the Operation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, held in The Hague 28 April to 9 May 2003, available at http://www.opcw.org/html/global/docs_frameset.html.

23. See, for example, the Note by the Director General, OPCW document RC-1/DG.1, paragraph 3.4, p.5, and statements by Australia, Canada, The EU, Republic of Korea and others, pointing towards this link.

24. Of these five states, three have acknowledged CW possession - India, Russian Federation and the US - while a fourth - the Republic of Korea (South Korea) - still prefers to be referred to in official OPCW documents as "a state party". The fifth CW possessor is Albania, which has recently discovered some 15 tons of "CW agents" on its territory. This material, however, seems far from usable as it is filled in rusty barrels, posing more of a threat to the environment and people handling them than to any theoretical opponent. Thus, there seems to be a good case for treating these agents not as CW, but instead as highly toxic chemical waste.

25. See Statement by the Russian Federation at the first session of the Conference to review the functioning of the Chemical Weapons Convention, no date given, mimeo.

26. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, First Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Statement by Dr Denis MacShane MP, Minister of State for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, The Hague, April 29, 2003.

27. See Statement by Ambassador Noor Farida Ariffin, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on Behalf of the States Parties of the Non-Aligned Movement to the Chemical Weapons Convention and China, The Hague, April 30, 2003, available at http://www.opcw.org/html/global/docs_frameset.html.

28. See Note by the Director General, OPCW document RC-1/DG.1, p.7.

29. See Statement of the Permanent Representative of Brazil to the OPCW, Embassador Affonso de Alencastro Massot, The Hague, April 29, 2003, mimeo.

30. The final version of the 'Review Document as approved by the First Special Session of the Conference of the States Parties to Review the Operation of the Chemical Weapons Convention' was made available by the OPCW on May 23 at http://www.opcw.org/html/global/wgrc/2k3/rcl_revodoc.html.

31. On the Seventh CSP in general, see Fiona Tregonning, 'CWC Report: Emerging From A Trial By Fire? A Report and Analysis of the Seventh Session of the Conference of States Parties', in Disarmament Diplomacy, No.67, October/November 2002.

32. See Technical Secretariat, Background Paper on the Conduct of Inspections Under the Chemical Weapons Convention and Related Issues, OPCW document RC-1/S/1, April 17, 2003, p.17

33. See The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, National Implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, OPCW document RC-1/NAT.3, April 15, 2003, p.3.

34. See Note by the Director General, OPCW document RC-1/DG.1, p.10f.

35. Note by the Director General, OPCW document RC-1/DG.1, p.12.

36. Statement to the First Special Session of the Conference of States parties to Review the Operation of the Chemical Weapons Convention by Mr. Mustafa Kamal Kazi, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the OPCW, The Hague, April 30, 2003.

37. Toxic chemicals and their precursors considered to pose a danger to the Convention's purposes are listed in the Annex on Chemicals, which divides such substances into three 'schedules'. The categories are used to structure declarations and to guide verification and inspection activities. Schedule 1 chemicals pose the highest risk to the CWC; many have been developed, produced, stockpiled, or used as chemical weapons in the past and they have little or no peaceful uses. Schedule 2 chemicals pose a significant risk to the convention either because they can be used themselves as chemical weapons or as a consequence of their role as precursors to schedule 1 or 2 chemicals. Schedule 2 chemicals are not produced commercially on a large-scale. Lastly, schedule 3 chemicals may be produced commercially in large quantities but still pose a risk to the Convention because of their role as precursors to either schedule 1 or schedule 2 chemicals.

38. Statement by Ambassador Shyamala B. Coswik, Permanent Representative of India to the OPCW & Leader of the Indian Delegation to the First Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention, The Hague, April 29, 2003, p.3. The term "voluntarily" is somewhat confusing in this statement as states parties' industry declarations are mandatory under Article VI of the Convention.

39. US Delegation to the OPCW: United States of America, National Statement to the First Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention by Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Stephen G. Rademacher, The Hague, April 28, 2003, p.4.

40. See Note by the Director General, OPCW document RC-1/DG.1, p.15f.

41. Statement by the Head of the Delegation of Greece, Ambassador George J. Kaklikis, on behalf of the European Union, The Hague, April 28, 2003, p.2.

42. Statement by Ambassador Noor Farida Ariffin, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons On Behalf of the States Parties of the Non-Aligned Movement to the Chemical Weapons Convention and China, The Hague, April 30, 2003, p.5.

43. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, First Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Statement by Dr Denis MacShane MP, Minister of State for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, The Hague, April 29, 2003. The EU working paper, The Hellenic Republic on Behalf of the European Union. Challenge Inspections: Views of the European Union, is available as OPCW document RC-1/NAT.21, May 1, 2003.

44. Note by the Director General, OPCW document RC-1/DG.1, p.17.

45. For details of the increases in the 2003 OPCW budget for international cooperatoon activities, see Seventh Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention Concludes, OPCW Press Release Number 65, The Hague, October 15, 2002. Additional background information is contained in Technical Secretariat, Background Paper on International Cooperation Programmes, OPCW document RC-1/S/2, April 22, 2003.

46. See the Indian statement during the General Debate, quoted above.

47. See the South African statement during the General Debate, quoted above.

48. Statement at the First Review Conference of the States Parties of the Chemical Weapons Convention by H.E. Ambassador Yong-kyoo Kim, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea, The Hague, April 28, 2003. p.6.

49. See the UK statement during the General Debate, quoted above, p.3.

50. See WGRC, Consolidated Chairman's Text, OPCW document RC-1/CRP.1, p.22.

51. The Australia Group (AG) consists of 32 states, plus the European Commission, with advanced chemical and biological industrial capacity: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States. All AG members are states party to both the CWC and Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). They meet to discuss ways to strengthen and coordinate export control policies designed to prevent the transfer and proliferation of dual-use chemical and biological items and materials. For further details, see the AG website, http://www.australiagroup.net.

52. See the respective statements made during the General Debate.

53. Statement by the Russian Federation at the first session of the Conference to review the functioning of the Chemical Weapons Convention, no date given, mimeo.

54. Note by the Director General, OPCW document RC-1/DG.1, p.19.

55. See Alexander Kelle, The first CWC Review Conference: taking stock and paving the way ahead, in Disarmament Forum, No.4, 2002, pp. 3-9.

56. Note by the Director General, OPCW document RC-1/DG.1, p.20.

57. See Statement to the First Special Session of the Conference of States parties to Review the Operation of the Chemical Weapons Convention by Mr. Mustafa Kamal Kazi, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the OPCW, The Hague, April 30, 2003. This statement needs to be seen in the context of positions taken by the SAB on the verification regime for OCPFs, and the Pakistani rejection of the redirection of this regime.

Dr. Alexander Kelle is Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, UK. For documentation from the First CWC Review Conference, including the full text of the Review Document and the Political Declaration, see the website of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy at http://www.acronym.org.uk/cwc/index.htm.

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