Friday, 16 March 2012

Working for a World Free of Chemical Weapons

RSC Belgium was honoured to welcome the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü on the evening of 15 March. The Ambassador addressed a large audience of members and friends of the section at the Royal African Museum in Tervuren.

His Excellency Ahmet Üzümcü (pictured left, above with RSC Belgium chairman Prof. Bob Crichton) was appointed Director-General of OPCW in December 2009. Immediately prior to this appointment he served as the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Turkey to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

Ambassador Üzümcü is a career diplomat with vast experience in multilateral diplomacy. He has represented Turkey at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Council, the Conference on Disarmament, the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva. He has considerable experience in disarmament-related diplomacy, political-military affairs, disarmament and proliferation issues. He held the post of Ambassador of Turkey to Israel from 1999 to 2002.

Chemistry for peace
Ambassador Üzümcü described the rationale for and operation of OPCW and the Convention on Chemical Weapons. Tremendous progress has been made in the destruction of the vast majority of chemical weapon stockpiles around the world. However vigilence is still required to finally eliminate this threat and ensure such weapons do not reappear in the hands of terrorists or new nation states.

"A total ban on chemical weapons is no small achievement for the international community," concluded Ambassador Üzümcü. "We will continue to endeavour to strengthen this norm in order to keep our future generations safe from this scourge which has in the past brought death and untold suffering to those that became victims."

"My message to you is to join this endeavour; to spread the word. To use your considerable expertise, influence and good will to ensure that the norms and values that we share are more widely known and supported. To guarantee through your work with students and apprentices that the chemist will always work for the betterment of the community and never use his knowledge and skills to bring harm to fellow human beings."

OPCW is working with the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry to promote the services of chemistry to society, international peace and security.

The full text of the Ambassador's speech can be found here.

Following the Ambassador's talk an extended question and answer ranged over the nature of chemical weapons, current threats to peace and environmental legacy issues.

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