The international plan for States to destroy chemical weapons is going well but a bit slowly, and “the possible employment of this type of weapon by non-State actors causes me particular concern”, wrote Minister for Foreign Affairs Franco Frattini in his annual report to the Parliament on the implementation of the Paris Convention of 29 April 1997, underscoring the need to confront the emergency: “It is going to be necessary to boost targeted efforts at countering the proliferation of chemical weapons – reads the document newly published by the Lower House –, identifying emergency management facilities and acting on prevention and repression also at international level”.
The report mentions Libya: “This country has declared it is in possession of chemical weapons; it did not sign the Paris Convention until 2004, fueling hopes that other countries of the region would soon follow suit and thereby end a vicious circle of reciprocal conditioning”. A total of 188 States, representing 98% of the planet’s population, have ratified the Paris convention to date, while some, at a distance of 14 years, have not yet done so. Frattini pointed out that Italy had worked hard on their destruction and had earned international recognition for it. Nevertheless, the world is still behind. The plan was meant to cover a ten-year time-span and free the planet of these dangerous weapons by the end of 2007. Everyone has asked for an extension through 2012, as envisaged in the Paris Treaty, but even for Italy it will be “unlikely”, Frattini admits, “that destruction activities will be complete by that date”.
The Paris Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, along with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Convention for the Ban on Biological Weapons, writes Counsellor Andrea Cavallari, Head of the Office of the National Authority, is one of the pillars on which the multilateral disarmament and weapons of mass destruction non-proliferation regimen rests. The Convention, open for signing in Paris on 13 January 1993, went into effect on 29 April 1997, and is the most complete instrument thus far enacted in the field of disarmament: on the one hand, it bans an entire category of weapons of mass destruction; and on the other, it establishes a permanent organization for its application – The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), whose mandate is to pursue the Convention’s goals and aims, including a very complete compliance control system. A full 98% of the world’s population is represented in the OPCW.
By ratifying the Convention, the States Party pledge to destroy all chemical weapons stockpiled on their soil and not to stockpile, develop or fabricate others or to use them for any reason, even in reprisal for attacks employing such weapons. The States Party also pledge to grant and facilitate OPCW inspections aimed, first and foremost, at checking on the destruction of existing stockpiles, and at ascertaining that hazardous chemical products widely used in legitimate civilian applications are not being employed improperly in the production of new chemical weapons.