USIS Washington 

17 September 1998


(Hague-based organization responsible for implementation) (870)

(The following factsheet was issued by the U.S. Arms Control and
Disarmament Agency on September 9, 1998.)

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The
Hague, the Netherlands, is responsible for implementing the Chemical
Weapons Convention (CWC). The OPCW structure and functions are
described below.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons: All
countries ratifying the Convention become States Parties to the CWC
and make up the membership of the OPCW. The OPCW, with headquarters in
The Hague, consists of the Conference of the States Parties and its
Executive Council, and the Technical Secretariat.

The Conference of the States Parties: As the principal organ of the
OPCW, the Conference oversees the implementation of the CWC and acts
to promote its object and purpose, including reviewing adherence to
the CWC. The Conference also oversees the activities of the Executive
Council and the Technical Secretariat and may issue guidelines in
accordance with the CWC to either of them for the exercise of their

Not later than one year after the fifth and tenth year after entry
into force of the CWC, and at such other times as may be decided upon
within that time period, the Conference shall convene in special
sessions to undertake reviews of the operation of the CWC. Such
reviews will take into account any relevant scientific and
technological developments. At intervals of five years thereafter,
unless otherwise decided upon, further sessions of the Conference will
be convened with the same objective.

The first meeting of the Conference of States Parties was May 6-23,
1997. The second meeting was held in December 1997, the third meeting
is scheduled for November 16-20, 1998, and subsequent meetings will be
held at least annually.

The Executive Council: The Council consists of 41 members, with each
State Party having the right, in accordance with the principle of
rotation, to serve on the Council. The members of the Council were
elected by the Conference for a term of two years. (For the first
election of the Executive Council, 20 members shall be elected for a
term of one year.) In order to ensure the effective functioning of the
CWC, the composition of the Council is made up in a way that gives due
regard to equitable geographical distribution, to the importance of
the chemical industry, and to political and security interests. The
United States is a member of the Executive Council.

The Council is the executive organ of the OPCW and is responsible to
the Conference of the States Parties for its actions. In this
capacity, the Council carries out the powers and functions entrusted
to it under the CWC, as well as those functions delegated to it by the
Conference. In so doing, it acts in conformity with the
recommendations, decisions and guidelines of the Conference and
assures their proper and continuous implementation. In addition to
promoting the effective implementation of and compliance with the CWC,
the Council supervises the activities of the Technical Secretariat,
cooperates with the National Authority of each State Party, and
facilitates consultations and cooperation among States Parties at
their request.

The Council has the right and duty to consider any issue or matter
within its competence affecting the CWC and its implementation,
including concerns regarding compliance and cases of non-compliance,
and, as appropriate, inform States Parties and bring the issue or
matter to the attention of the Conference.

In cases of particular gravity and urgency, the Council will bring the
matter, including relevant information and conclusions, directly to
the attention of the United Nations General Assembly and the United
Nations Security Council. At the same time, the council will inform
all States Parties of its action.

The Technical Secretariat: The Secretariat is comprised of: a Director
General (who is its head and chief administrative officer);
inspectors; and such scientific, technical and other personnel as may
be required. The Conference appoints the Director General upon the
recommendation of the Executive Council. The Director General is
responsible to them for the appointment of the staff and the
organization and functioning of the Technical Secretariat. The
Director General is Ambassador Jose Bustani of Brazil.

The Secretariat assists the Conference and the Council in the
performance of their functions as well as carrying out the
verification measures provided for in the CWC. The Secretariat also
performs other functions entrusted to it under the CWC and those
functions delegated to it by the Conference and the Council.

A major responsibility of the Secretariat is to inform the Council of
any problem that arises with regard to the discharge of its functions,
including doubts, ambiguities or uncertainties about compliance with
the CWC that have come to its notice in the performance of its
verification activities and that it has been unable to resolve or
clarify through its consultations with the State Party concerned.

It is the responsibility of each State Party to respect the
exclusively international character of the responsibilities of the
Director General, the inspectors and other members of the staff and
not seek to influence them in the discharge of their duties.