OPCW Chief Briefs Cameroonian Officials on OPCW’s Priority Activities in Africa

OPCW Stakeholders Forum Yaounde, Cameroon

The Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü has briefed Cameroonian Officials about OPCW’s Priority Activities and Efforts in Africa during his recent visit to Cameroon from 12-13 September, 2017.

Speaking during the Stakeholders Forum for States Parties in Africa on Adoption of national Implementing legislation related to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) held in Yaoundé on September 13, the Director-General explained that OPCW’s Priority activities and efforts in Africa involve a range of capacity building and training opportunities for relevant authorities including civil defence organisations, first responders and chemical laboratories.

He described the many accomplishments of the OPCW as it marked the twentieth anniversary of the entry into force of the CWC and the founding of the OPCW.

Ambassador Üzümcü insisted that the Forum hosted by the Cameroon Ministry of External Relations aims at helping the African States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to advance the status of their legislation related to the Convention. He added that during the length of the forum, participants would be guided on how to take forward and improve the implementation of the CWC, as well as given an opportunity to share information and best practices on the development and adoption of legislation.

He explained that the Convention currently remains the cornerstone of the international community’s commitment to eliminating the scourge of chemical weapons; while highlighting the importance of CWC’s full implementation, including embedding the Convention’s provisions into domestic law.

The OPCW Director-General underlined that such full CWC implementation could serve as a potent weapon against terrorism, which increasingly impacts the security of the continent stating that:

“Africa is no stranger to terrorism and the destruction that it can inflict. Violent extremist groups — such as Boko Haram — that respect no borders present dangers to the whole region. As the chemical industry in Africa increases in scale and sophistication, the potential for non-state actors to gain access to toxic chemicals grows increasingly real.” 

He further explained that, as the destruction of the remaining military stockpiles approaches its completion, the focus of the OPCW is shifting to consist of preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons, countering the mounting threat of chemical terrorism, and responding to the rapid advances in science and technology because the threat of chemical terrorism, he insists, “is a real concern, and one that cannot be easily addressed with current approaches to non-proliferation”. It is a threat the Director-General emphasized is taken very seriously at the OPCW.

Some of the participants in the Cameroonian delegation included: Minister of External Relations H.E Mbella Mbella; Minister of State in charge of Justice, H.E. Mr. Laurent Esso; the Minister in charge of Defence at the Presidency of the Republic, H.E. Mr. Joseph Beti Assomo; the Minister of Finance, H.E. Mr. Alamine Ousmane Mey; the Minister Delegate in charge of Islamic Cooperation, H.E. Mr. Adoum Gargoum and H.E. Ambassador Mrs. Odette Melono, Permanent Representative of Cameroon to the OPCW.

The Diplomatic Corps representatives included: Ambassadors from France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Algeria, Morocco, South Africa and Turkey. The representatives of the African Union, the European Union and the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations system were also invited.

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