Belgium supports the fight against the use of chemical weapons

Didier Reynders, Ahmet Üzümcü & Steven Vandeput

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders and Minister of Defence Steven Vandeput received today at the Egmont Palace in Brussels Ahmet Üzümcü, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The OPCW controls the compliance to the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, which prohibits the possession and use of chemical weapons. Over its twenty years of existence, the organisation controlled the destruction of 96% of the global stock of chemical weapons. The organisation became even more important after the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, where the regime and rebel groups were repeatedly found guilty of using chemical weapons. In 2013, the organisation received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Belgium participates in the fight against chemical weapons. The first massive gas attack took place in our country during the First World War. We commemorate this year the end of this war.

Disarmament and non-proliferation are long-established priorities of Belgium's diplomacy. The fight against impunity in the use of chemical weapons ranks also high on our agenda.

The situation in Syria proves unfortunately that, even 100 years after the massacre at Ypres, this fight is not over yet. The OPCW plays a crucial role in that fight. Thanks to its expert and impartial investigations, the repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria could indeed be proven.

Belgium condemns the use of chemical weapons by the regime and rebel groups in Syria. These constitute war crimes which must be punished. Syria became a member of the OPCW in 2013 and must respect its rules. Minister Reynders called the Syrian regime to provide all clarity over its chemical weapons programme.

He emphasized also the importance of the universal application of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Minister Reynders called the four remaining countries (North Korea, Egypt, South Sudan and Israel) to accede to the Convention. He is pleased by the steps taken by South Sudan in this respect.

Finally, Minister Reynders thanked Ahmed Üzümcü for his work at the head of the OPCW. He confirmed that the organisation could continue to count on Belgium’s expertise and support.