Mr. Chairman, Mr. Director-General, Distinguished Delegates,
At the outset of the first meeting of this new Council, I would like to warmly welcome you, Ambassador Blarel, as our new Chairman. I applaud your active work since assuming the Chair on May 12th and have every confidence that you will lead us deftly during the year ahead, building on the successes we achieved under the skillful leadership of Ambassador Lomónaco, to whom we express our warm thanks. I also welcome each of our new Vice-Chairmen and all of the new and returning members of this Council. My delegation and I look forward to working closely with each and every one of you, and as always, we pledge our support during this Council session.
All of us should begin at once to tackle, and complete, the work represented on our agenda this week. The Council has a number of annual reports and draft decisions to consider, and we believe that the Council should clear as much of its work as possible, discussing issues where necessary, and not simply deferring matters to a future session. In recent sessions, the Council has begun to discuss issues seriously during Council sessions and to move beyond its past behavior of deferring much of its agenda from one session to the next. We support your efforts, Mr. Chairman, to continue this trend and to energize the work of the Council, ensuring that it operates effectively and efficiently.
I am pleased to inform the Council that the United States continues to make substantial progress in the destruction of our chemical weapons stockpile. As announced yesterday during the destruction informals, we have successfully destroyed 73.8 percent of our stockpile. We are proud of this accomplishment and continue to work hard to complete the total elimination of our stockpile. In this connection, I want to stress the commitment of the United States to destroy its entire chemical weapons stockpile. I reject without qualification the claim by a previous speaker that the United States seeks to retain some of its chemical weapons.
While almost 75 percent of the U.S. stockpile has been destroyed, over forty percent remains of the total quantity of chemical weapons declared globally under the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Council was reminded yesterday that destruction efforts have significant challenges. This work is difficult, dangerous and much more technically complex than previously envisioned. The presentations in yesterday’s destruction informals on the challenges faced in Iraq, Libya and Russia, as well as in the United States, highlight this reality and should serve to remind us that the Council needs to stay firmly focused on the goal of the Chemical Weapons Convention – the verified destruction of all chemical weapons as rapidly as possible, in a manner that is safe and environmentally sound. The United States welcomes the increased level of transparency of Russia and Iraq and encourages Libya to demonstrate a similar level of transparency.
The United States continues to support fully the ongoing consultations under your leadership, Mr. Chairman, on “how and when” to initiate discussion by the Council on issues related to meeting the final extended deadline for the destruction of chemical weapons. We believe that the situation before us requires a political solution, not a technical change or an amendment to the Convention. The United States agrees with the position already expressed by a number of delegations that no decision should be adopted by the Conference that would undermine the Convention, or that would raise questions about the commitment of States Parties, or that would lead to rewriting or reinterpreting the Convention’s provisions. We appreciate the effort of the Technical Secretariat in preparing the recent papers on legal and administrative implications, and we recognize that, based on recent information, revisions to the administrative paper will now be required. The Council should work to find consensus solutions that will maintain the integrity of the Convention and keep the Organization strong.
On administrative and financial matters, the United States welcomes the 2009 report of the External Auditor and commends the Director-General and the Technical Secretariat for the strong management of the Organization which the External Auditor has recognized. We welcome the External Auditor’s recommendation to initiate discussions on the tenure policy. Such discussions are necessary to ensure that the OPCW continues to attract and retain highly-qualified staff members with the necessary expertise to effectively fulfill the Organization’s core objectives. We support the External Auditor’s recommendation to allow the Director-General more flexibility in implementing the tenure policy, without amending the policy itself, to include extending and renewing contracts beyond the seven-year limit for critical key functions, as well as possibly re-setting the seven-year clock after staff members are promoted to different positions or return to the Technical Secretariat after being gone for a period of time.
One item before us this week, which was deferred from our last Council session, is the draft decision for annual reporting on the composition of the Technical Secretariat. We support the approval of the decision and commend Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry of Pakistan for his efficient facilitation of the issue. We also welcome Ms. Sakiko Hayakawa of Japan, who is taking over as the new facilitator for administrative and financial audit and oversight matters.
The United States welcomes the draft Program and Budget for 2011, which the Director-General presented last Thursday. Even as he prepares to leave us, the Director-General has ensured that the Organization will continue to be well-run and meet all of its core objectives efficiently and with fiscal prudence. We applaud him and the Technical Secretariat for once again producing a balanced, zero-nominal growth budget for an unprecedented sixth year in a row. We will carefully consider the proposed Program and Budget, and we look forward to welcoming a facilitator or co-facilitators to lead us in our deliberations after the summer break. We hope, once again, that the Council will be able to come to consensus on the Program and Budget at its session in October.
The United States also thanks the Technical Secretariat for its efforts to fully implement the International Public Sector Accounting Standards, or IPSAS, which the Conference approved at its Fourteenth Session. The Technical Secretariat has made great strides in this regard, while managing the financial costs associated with IPSAS implementation. This week, we have before us a number of amendments to the Financial Rules, including those necessary for the Organization to be fully compliant with IPSAS as of January 1, 2011. As recommended by the Advisory Body on Administrative and Financial Matters, the Council should swiftly approve these amendments and recommend that the Conference approve related amendments to the Financial Regulations.
On industry matters, we believe it is very important that all States Parties work together constructively to re-energize the discussions within the Industry Cluster to resolve outstanding issues and to address new ones. Doing so is highly relevant to the effectiveness of the OPCW’s non-proliferation objectives. We welcome the efforts of the new Vice-Chairman for Industry Issues, Ambassador Peter Goosen of South Africa, in this regard, and we look forward to renewed consultations on important industry issues. We also commend Mr. Marthinus van Schalkwyk of South Africa for his efforts in facilitating discussions on enhancements of declarations for other chemical production facilities. We extend our thanks to the Technical Secretariat for providing expert advice and recommendations during the consultations, which we hope will be useful as we restart consultations on the related issue of OCPF site selection methodology. In this connection, we welcome Ambassador Fauziah Mohamad Taib of Malaysia and Ambassador Pieter de Savornin Lohman of the Netherlands as the new co-facilitators on this important issue, which has remained dormant for too long.
The United States would like to thank the Technical Secretariat, especially the Office of the Legal Advisor, for continuing the hard work of assisting States Parties with Article VII implementing legislation. States Parties have continued to demonstrate progress, but there is still much work to be done in order for all States Parties to discharge the obligations of Article VII. The Technical Secretariat cannot do this alone. The United States encourages all States Parties that are in a position to do so, to offer their expertise and assistance to other States Parties. The United States stands prepared to provide advice and technical assistance to other States Parties with implementing their Article VII obligations.
I would also like to recognize the dedication and diligent efforts of all our facilitators to further the inter-sessional consultative process that is such an integral part of the work of the Council. We appreciate all of the hard work of Ms. Raja Rabia of France on Universality, Mr. Rami Adwan of Lebanon on Article VII, Mr. Maciek Karasiński of Poland on Article X, Mr. Chen Kai of China on Article XI, Mr. Michael Hurley of Ireland on Situations not Foreseen, and Mr. Mike Byers of Australia on the Open-ended Working Group on Terrorism. We welcome your initiative, Mr. Chairman, to assist and support our facilitators by offering senior leadership on issues whenever necessary and designing a more structured approach to planning and overseeing inter-sessional work.
Most of my statement has dealt with the issues that are immediately before us. But the Council should also be mindful that as stockpiles are destroyed, the OPCW is entering into a new phase in which issues other than destruction will have increased prominence. In particular, as destruction winds down after 2012, fewer inspectors and supporting headquarters staff will be needed. The United States believes that the main purpose of the OPCW must continue to be strengthening international security against the use of chemicals for hostile purposes. In this context, we see the efforts devoted to non-proliferation of chemical weapons, whether to states or non-state actors, as a key aspect of the OPCW’s activity. Furthermore, as we raised in the U.S. statement to the Sixtieth Session of the Council in April, technical advances are bringing chemistry and biology closer together, with possible implications for the work of the Technical Secretariat.
Over the coming twelve months we hope that this Council will engage in discussion and debate about the future of the OPCW. We would like to hear the views and ideas of all delegations. In 2011, the Council will need to take decisions about activities, staffing and budget that will reflect our collective views about that future.
Before closing, I would like to pay tribute to an extraordinary colleague, one who is a diplomat, a statesman, and a leader: our departing Director-General, Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter. We all have been extremely fortunate to have him at the helm. During the past eight years he has served this Organization, Ambassador Pfirter has used his deft leadership, keen management, and impressive diplomatic skills to develop the OPCW into an international organization that plays a key role in strengthening international security. Due in no small part to Ambassador Pfirter, the OPCW is widely recognized as a model of effective multilateral cooperation for its ability to work steadily toward the global elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction. On behalf of the United States, I would like to thank Ambassador Pfirter for his distinguished service and dedication, and to wish him all the best in his future endeavors.
In closing, I would like to request that this statement be circulated as an official document of the Sixty-First Session of the Council. Thank you.