Extend chemical weapons ban treaty to whole world - Annan

Extend chemical weapons ban treaty to whole world - Annan

Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Warning against complacency with progress so far achieved by the treaty banning chemical weapons, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged that it be extended beyond its current 151 members to all nations in the world and that enough funds be provided to accelerate complete chemical disarmament.

"Recent events have made clear the urgent need to ensure the complete universality of the treaty," Mr. Annan said in a message to the First Review Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in The Hague.

"The need to accelerate the process of chemical disarmament requires added financial assistance from the international community. A solemn commitment by States parties to the full implementation and further strengthening of all provisions of the Convention is needed to give new impetus to the realization of its goals," he added in the message, which was delivered in Geneva on his behalf by Enrique Roman-Morey, Director, Department of Disarmament Affairs.

Mr. Annan welcomed this first review conference in the almost six years that the treaty had been in force as an important milestone in multilateral efforts to eliminate an entire class of weapons of mass destruction under stringent international verification. "The importance of the global process of chemical disarmament cannot be overstated," he said.

Noting reduced stockpiles, tighter controls over materials and technology used to make such weapons, an intrusive verification system and enhanced export controls, he added: "Needless to say, progress in all these areas will also help enormously in alleviating the danger of chemical weapons falling into the hands of terrorists."

But Mr. Annan warned: "We cannot, however, afford to be complacent."

He stressed the vital confidence-building role played by the CWC in international society, with its ability to allow its States parties to satisfy themselves that others are not seeking to acquire such weapons. "The Convention thus serves a practical goal of enhancing security, a moral goal of eliminating one of the world's most cruel and inhumane weapons, and a political goal of establishing a common forum for reaffirming and strengthening the global taboo on such weapons," he declared.

Among its tasks, the conference will assess the current process of destruction of declared arsenals.