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Who are the OPCW?

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Who are the OPCW?


The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2013.

What does it do?

The OPCW is an intergovernmental organisation, based in The Hague, Netherlands. The organisation takes on the daunting task of promoting and verifing adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Employing technical experts and skilled specialists, it is responsible for inspecting and destroying the arsenal of all its189 members.

The principal body, the conference of states parties, normally assembles yearly with all participating countries present and each with equal voting rights.


Countries are generally represented in the Conference by a permanent representative to the organisation. The Conference decides on all the main organisational topics such approving guidelines and imposing retaliation measures against members.

The Executive Council of the organisation consists of 41 States Parties, which are appointed by the Conference on a 2-year term. Among other things the Council manages the budget and works with the General Secretariat on matters related to the convention.

The Technical Secretariat is the department that applies most of the decisions mandated by the Council and is the body where the majority of employees work. The principal activities of the OPCW are performed by the verification and inspection division.


Inspections by the OPCW take place at all operational chemical weapon destruction facilities to verify the success of the destruction as well as the amount of weapons being destroyed.

Relation with the UN

While not an agency of the United Nations, the groups cooperate on both policy and practical issues.

In September 2000 the OPCW signed a cooperation agreement with the United Nations outlining how they planned to coordinate their activities. The inspectors also travel under the United Nations Laissez-Passer, a special travel document explaining their position, privileges and immunities.

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