Distinguished members of the Scientific Advisory Board,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all most warmly to the 16th Session of the Scientific Advisory Board.
Let me first of all congratulateDr Philip Coleman from South Africa for his re-election as Chairperson of the Board andProfessor Mahdi Balali-Mood from Iranfor his re-election as the Vice Chairperson. Dr. Philip Coleman and Prof. Mahdi Balali-Mood bring with them vast experience and unique expertise on issues related to chemical engineering and disarmament. I have no doubt that their contribution will further enrich the work of the Board and that of the OPCW as a whole.
Allow me to recognize in our midst Dr Abdullah Saeed Al-Amri of Saudi Arabia, Dr Neivy Fernández Manresa of Cuba, Professor Slawomir Neffe of Poland, Dr Paula Vanninen of Finland and Mr Nan Zhang of Chinawho are attending their first session of the SAB since their appointment in 2010. I have no doubt that the combination of their vast experience of activities related to the Convention together with their knowledge will be an asset to the SAB.
This session will be the last session for three members who are completing their second term of office on the Board. They are Professor Alberto Fratadocchi of Italy, Dr Godwin Ogbadu of Nigeria, and Dr Valery Kuhkar of Ukraine. I wish to express my deep appreciation to all three for their dedicated commitment to the important work of the SAB. The services of Professor Fratadocchi, Dr Kukhar, and Dr Ogbadu have helped to advance the goals of the Chemical Weapons Convention and I am sure that the Executive Council and indeed all our States Parties share my gratitude to them.
The SAB will consider the report of the fifth meeting of the temporary working group on sampling and analysis held in The Hague on 18 and 19 November 2010. The work carried out by this temporary working group continues to be of great importance for the OPCW. I welcome the ongoing cooperation between the OPCW Laboratory and the SAB on the topic of on-site analysis. I would like also to acknowledge the work which is carried out in the framework of the question of scheduled chemicals, including saxitoxin and ricin, particularly within the correspondence groups. I would encourage the temporary working group to continue this endeavour, through the SAB and through the Chairperson of the temporary working group, Dr Robin Black from the United Kingdom. In this regard I would like to convey my appreciation to the members of the temporary working group and its Chairperson, as well as to the heads of the correspondence groups for their dedicated work and commitment.
I also hope that the discussion on fast gas chromatography (fast GC), based on the report which was provided by the OPCW Laboratory to the fifth meeting of the temporary working group on sampling and analysis, can contribute to the preparation by the SAB of a publication on a modified method for reducing analysis time during an inspection.
The SAB will further continue to address the question of saxitoxin. In this regard, I welcome the work carried out by the SAB at its Fourteenth and Fifteenth sessions on the development of a fact sheet on saxitoxin. I look forward to receiving your initial assessment and recommendations and hope that this work will contribute to the preparation by the SAB of a publication on this matter.
As regards the question of captive use of schedule 1 chemicals, the SAB, in response to a question asked by a MemberState, provided a report in 2005. I understand that the Verification Division will brief the SAB on the recent developments regarding captive use of schedule 1 chemicals I hope that this briefing will assist the SAB in its deliberations.
The scope of the definition of “production by synthesis” under Part IX of the Verification Annex is an important issue. It was addressed by the SAB at its Second session in April 1999 and also in its report on developments in science and technology that was forwarded to the First Review Conference in 2003. I also hope that the SAB will carry out an in-depth study of this issue and will provide its reassessment and new recommendations.
The question of convergence of biology and chemistry is an important question on the agenda of the SAB. Experts are of the opinion that there is a growing overlap between chemical and biological production technologies that might have implications on the Chemical Weapons Convention. The SAB is the right body to conduct a thorough study that would include the conduct of an investigation into the production of Schedule 1 compounds with biologically mediated processes. Very recently the OPCW was briefed by Dr Jonathan Tucker on this subject. I have no doubt that these documents will prove useful while considering this question. I also look forward to receiving your contributions together with your recommendations on how to address the potential implications of the convergence of biology and chemistry forthe Convention.
At its Fifteenth Session, the SAB started exploring the issue of riot control agents and incapacitating chemical agentsand recommended that it start deliberations by receiving briefings on the different technical, legal, law enforcement, military, and political aspects surrounding the subject in order to identify the technical areas in which it can be of most assistance. The SAB was requested by my predecessor to address the technical aspects related to this question. Needless to say, your initial assessment and recommendation on this matter will be keenly awaited.
At its Fourteenth session, the SAB recommended that the discovery of new chemicals with properties that make them relevant to the Convention be discussed at a future session. This matter also underlines the critical role that SAB is expected to play now and in the future.
We are faced with a time of breathtaking advances in science and technology. New chemical compounds and production methods are constantly being researched and discovered, affording the global community many benefits but also creating risks. The important work of the SAB will help the OPCW respond to these new challenges and ensure the long-term effectiveness of the Convention’s prohibitions. Your inputs will serve as an important reference while formulating the Organisation’s responses in the future.
At a time of change, outreach to the scientific community assumes greater importance. I addressed a letter to your Chairperson conveying to him that I was considering, in the framework of a strategy for the stakeholders of the Convention, ways of enhancing the involvement of the scientific community in the promotion of the goals of the Convention. Your advice and counsel on this matter would be important to help us understand how to reach out to the scientific community and develop and enhance our relationships. I am sure that you will agree that in this context efforts need to be redoubled to finalize a code of conduct that has been pending for some time now.
With regard to the preparation of your report that I will submit, as a contribution on developments in science and technology, to the Third Review Conference, I wrote to the President and the Secretary General of IUPACin order to propose a possible joint project between IUPAC and the OPCW. You would recall thatIUPAC undertook similar endeavours in preparation for the First and Second Review Conferences. My proposal was welcomed by IUPAC, and planning for the convening of the workshop will start very soonin coordination withProfessor Leiv Sydnes who, I understandis quite experienced in OPCW matters.
I express my appreciation to Spiez Laboratory of Switzerland, and to Mr Stefan Mogl,for the very helpful offer to host the OPCW/IUPAC workshop at their premisesat the beginning of 2012.
As you already know, the Secretariat is organizing a Conference on International Cooperation and Chemical Safety and Security. The Conference, which will be held in The Hague on 12 and 13 September 2011, is intended to promote the objectives of the International Year of Chemistry. I look forward to the suggestions and recommendations of the SAB for its contribution to this important event.
Distinguished members of SAB,
This Board represents a wealth of experience and scientific expertise, and your contributions will be influential as the OPCW navigates through this time of institutional transition. Acknowledging this Board’s important role, I would like to assure you that the activities of the SAB will continue to be funded and actively supported. I will seize every opportunity to emphasize that priority should be accorded to facilitating the work of the SAB and its temporary working groups. I will also continue to underline that the work of SAB enhances the OPCW’s capabilities and helps the Organisation to appreciate the impact of scientific advances as well as to adjust its implementation practices to changing conditions in chemical research, development, and production. I do believe, however, that it is also important to engage with State’s Parties and to interact with them closely. Enhancing their understanding and appreciation of SAB’s important work will undoubtedly create greater receptivity for your recommendations.
For the draft budget for 2012, I intend to propose financing from the regular budget for an additional session of the SAB in 2012, as was done in the Programme and Budget.
As for the trust fund, I would like to express my gratitude to the eleven States Parties and to the European Union for their generous contribution to the fund.
You will no doubt be aware that a notehas been sent to States Parties calling for voluntary contributions for the funding of the sixth meeting of the temporary working group on sampling and analysis in autumn 2011. I sincerely hope that additional support from our Member States will be forthcoming to sustain the important work of the SAB that is so vital to ensuring the long term success of the Convention.
I wish to conclude my remarks by stressing once again my deep appreciation for the dedication that the members of the SAB continue to show to their mission and their work. Your mandate and the unique expertise you offer are crucial for ensuring the continued success and relevance of the Chemical Weapons Convention and verification regime.
It is with this awareness of the special task that you have before you, that I wish you a successful session.