“We cannot go backwards,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a video message addressing the fifth Special Session of the States parties to review the operation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
“The use of chemical weapons has persisted; each use threatens to reverse our hard-won gains,” he said. “We must make every effort to eliminate these senseless weapons of terror.”
In the name of the victims of these attacks, and as a deterrent to any State or other actors who might use chemical weapons in the future, he said those responsible for any use must be identified and held accountable for their crimes.
Chemical weapons “ have no place in our world” and their use anywhere, by anyone, for any reason is unacceptable, he said, underlining the importance of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Entering into force in 1997, it aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons, by its 193 States parties.
In turn, signatories must take the necessary steps to enforce that prohibition and ensure the safe destruction of existing stockpiles.
Around 98 per cent of the global population lives under the Convention’s protection, and 99 per cent of declared stockpiles have been verifiably destroyed, said the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Convention’s implementing body.
“This milestone of disarmament was the result of the world standing as one and speaking as one to express humanity’s horror at the use of chemical weapons,” he said. “Since then, the Convention has helped create a safer world for all of us.”
“Let’s revive the spirit that led to the Convention’s creation three decades ago,” he said, urging States to renew and strengthen their commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention. “Let’s rally the world behind our goal of a safer, more secure world for all: a world without chemical weapons.”