The visit of OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias to Berlin took place on the occasion of the opening event of the think tank network CBWnet, which is being supported by federal funds. In addition to a critical appraisal of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the event shed light on current challenges, especially with regard to the prohibition of chemical weapons.
One of the most successful disarmament treaties
The Chemical Weapons Convention, which entered into force on 29 April 1997, is one of the most successful disarmament treaties; it bans an entire category of weapons and monitors the ban with a comprehensive verification system. Since the treaty entered into force, 99 percent of the declared stockpiles have been destroyed.
Nevertheless, the Convention is more important today than ever before. The deployment of chemical weapons in Syria and the use of chemical weapons in the cases of Alexei Navalny and Sergei Skripal underscore the risks of a return of these weapons. Furthermore, the Russian disinformation campaign claiming that Ukraine is planning to use chemical substances and the resulting risk of “false-flag” operations by Russia, about which NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg also recently issued a warning, illustrate the current international challenges in the area of chemical weapons.
At their meeting (29 April), Foreign Minister Baerbock and OPCW Director-General Arias exchanged views on how to address these challenges. Foreign Minister Baerbock emphasised the paramount importance of the Chemical Weapons Convention and paid tribute to the OPCW’s work as part of the rules-based order, including in the destruction of chemical weapons, support for the protection against chemical threats and investigations into the use of chemical weapons. She also touched on the support that Germany is currently providing to Ukraine for protecting against the possible use of chemical weapons.
Opening event of the new German think tank network CBWNet
The opening event of the new German think tank network CBWNet was attended by Director-General Fernando Arias, State Secretary Susanne Baumann and former Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü. Over the next four years, the interdisciplinary competence network will research ways to strengthen norms against chemical and biological weapons across the board. The collaborative project is being carried out jointly by four German research institutions: the Berlin office of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH), the Chair of Public Law and International Law at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen, the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF) and the Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker Centre for Science and Peace Research (ZNF) at the University of Hamburg.