Politicization of CWC could have serious consequences warns Pakistani diplomat

Islamabad: A Pakistani diplomat has cautioned the international community against politicization of Chemical Weapons Convention saying it could have serious implications for future disarmament efforts.

Director (Disarmament) at the Foreign Office Ali Sattar, while speaking at a webinar hosted by the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) on ‘Chemical Weapons Convention: Challenges, Approaches and Implementation’, said “Politicization of Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) would undermine the credibility of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon (OPCW)” – the implementing body of the Convention, the think tank said in a media statement on Friday.

Sattar discussed the cases of alleged use of Chemical Weapons in Syria, Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny and the addition of Central Nervous System Acting Agents to the Schedule 1 of CWC as instances of politicization of the Convention.

He warned that compromising the credibility of CWC, which was seen as an ideal model for future disarmament treaties for being universal, would undermine future control initiatives.

Director General Strategic Export Control Division at FO Dr Zafar Ali dilated on Pakistan’s exports control legal framework covering CWC.

Speaking about the challenges, he said the biggest issue was about striking a balance between the responsible use of chemistry and security; and preserving and strengthening the moral and public backing against chemical weapons and the support for the Convention.

Dr Ali, while referring to the Syrian instance, warned about the possibility of use of chemical weapons by the non-state actors and in that case the issue of attribution of responsibility. He further pointed out that certain provisions of CWC had to be incorporated into domestic legislation by the countries that had ratified the Convention, but the absence of a deadline in this regard resulted in slow progress on this count.

Executive Director CISS Amb (R) Ali Sarwar Naqvi said the webinar had been organized to explore the entire range of issues pertaining to the CWC. He said CWC was a significant international agreement and its breakdown could potentially have serious repercussions for the global security.

He underscored the importance of the Internal Compliance Program of UNSCR-1540 for developing a robust implementation mechanism.

Dr. Syed Javaid Khurshid, Senior Research Fellow, CISS, spoke about the universality of the CWC and Pakistan’s commitment to its Implementation. He also suggested measures to further strengthen and implement Internal Compliance procedures of 1540 at academic and research institutes to reduce the risk of dual-use chemicals and the establishment of a Responsible Chemistry Institute.

Dr Muhamad Afzal, former DG Chem-Bio Director, and Zawar Haider Abidi, Senior Fellow CISS also  spoke on this occasion.