GLOBAL SECURITY NEWSWIRE. JANUARY 22, 2010. By Chris Schneidmiller
WASHINGTON -- Dozens of nongovernmental organizations from around the world are forming an umbrella group to help promote the total elimination of chemical weapons and prevent their use by terrorists.
The Chemical Weapons Convention Coalition, in a mission statement, identifies itself as “an independent, international body whose mission is to support” the global ban on chemical warfare materials “with focused civil society action aimed at achieving full membership of the CWC, the safe and timely elimination of all chemical weapons, preventing the misuse of chemicals for hostile purposes and promoting their peaceful use."
It is among a scant number of such alliances established to support the aims of a specific nonproliferation treaty, said Paul Walker, head of the Security and Sustainability program at Global Green USA. The environmental organization helped develop the coalition and will serve as its hub of operations.
The new group has been years in the planning. Supporters believe it can help raise the profile of the pact in regions where membership and implementation of its rules remain a cause of concern.
“All of Europe is a member now, all of the Americas … The problem areas are really in the Middle East and Asia and a couple countries in Africa,” Walker told Global Security Newswire. “So we realized if we were to build a coalition to promote universality we just couldn’t do it with the groups that normally come to the annual meetings” of member nations to the convention.
Representatives from about 35 nongovernmental organizations -- most from outside the United States and Western Europe -- attended a two-day session last month in The Hague, Netherlands, to prepare the founding document for the coalition. Organizers hope to attract no fewer than 100 groups to the coalition by the end of 2010.
A plan of work through 2012 -- the year by which all CWC states must have eliminated any arsenals of prohibited materials -- is set to be completed in a couple months, Walker said.
Among the planned activities detailed in the founding document is the preparation of a database on all nations’ activities relative to the convention, including whether they have joined and the size of chemical industries that could be turned to illicit activities. The coalition also intends to produce a yearly report card assessing whether CWC member states are instituting the pact’s requirements at the national level.
Tools for achieving the group’s goals will include public meetings, written commentaries, letter-writing campaigns, interviews, analyses and educational programs, according to the founding document. The target audience will be officials at all levels of government.
Work would not be limited to that sector, though. The coalition intends to prepare an analysis with recommendations for augmenting the nonproliferation value of the inspection program of the convention’s monitoring body, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. It will also offer “research and expert policy advice” to the organization, its member states and other parties, according to the group.