Participating in the General Debate on the second day of the 21st Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention in The Hague, the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to The Netherlands and Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), A.M.J. Sadiq referred to the recent spate of horrendous terrorist attacks and the rise of Non-State Actors.
In this context, he commended the work done by the Open Ended Working Group on Terrorism under the leadership of Dr Tony Aidoo, Ambassador of Ghana and at the Sub-Working Group on Non-State Actors, chaired by Maria Teresa Infante, Ambassador of Chile, as being important to explore and strengthen national capacities of Member States.
Ambassador Sadiq highlighted the urgent need for States to enhance their readiness and ability to meet such threats, and welcomed the establishment of the Rapid Response Assistance Team (RRAT) as a timely initiative, to enhance the capacity and the readiness of the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW to provide swift responses and assistance to States Parties, upon request, against the use of chemical weapons. He urged the OPCW not to limit the scope of the RRAT only to chemical weapons related incidents, but extend it to cover chemical accidents, as well.
The Sri Lankan Ambassador underscored the crucial need for international cooperation and assistance in the areas of verification, capacity building and assistance & protection for the peaceful applications of Chemistry and to strengthen the national capacities in chemical emergency responses.
In this regard, he announced that Sri Lanka is pleased to host the Fifth Regional Basic Training Course on Emergency Response to Chemical Incidents for States Parties in Asia, organized by the National Authority of Sri Lanka with the assistance of the Technical Secretariat from 06th to 10th February 2017, in Colombo. The objective of the Programme is to provide participants adequate training on civil defence, civil protection, and decontamination operations in contaminated areas and counter- measures in the event of incidents involving chemical warfare agents or toxic industrial chemicals.
Highlighting the role of the private sector in Sri Lanka in collaborating with the OPCW, Ambassador Sadiq stated that Camso Loadstar (Pvt) Ltd hosted the industrial attachment of two participants from Tunisia and Paraguay in September this year, as a part of the OPCW Associate Programme 2016.
Speaking further, Ambassador Sadiq welcomed the successful removal of precursor chemicals from Libya, on 27 August 2016, as part of an ongoing operation undertaken in close collaboration with the Libyan National Authority, to verifiably eliminate remaining chemical weapons stocks and thanked the Technical Secretariat and all other associated States Parties and organizations for this significant achievement.
Referring to Syria, Ambassador Sadiq stated that, “Sri Lanka attaches high importance to the Convention on the prohibition of development, production, stockpiling and the use of chemical weapons and on their destruction. In this context, Sri Lanka values the work of the OPCW. The use of chemical weapons anywhere, irrespective of circumstances, cannot be justified. The OPCW and the UN Joint Investigative Mechanism Report highlights the use of chemical weapons in Syria, which is of grave concern and we would like to emphasize the urgent need for decisive action in this regard.”
Miss Wathsala Amarasinghe, Second Secretary of the Embassy was associated with Ambassador Sadiq, as a member of the Sri Lanka delegation at the Conference.