Groups discuss ratification of Chemical Weapons Convention
By ANGELO ARMBRISTER
Freeport News Reporter
Representatives from the Ministries of Environment, National Security and Foreign Affairs as well as a number of other public and private enterprises converged at the Our Lucaya Resort for a meeting geared towards the ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
Marilyn Zonicle, Undersec-retary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the group participated in a day-long stakeholders consultation session, which was described as the final stage of a national exercise for The Bahamas to ratify the United Nation's CWC.
"We've done all the leg work in terms of what is required of us under the convention," Zonicle said. "That includes legislation, a national authority or focal point body to liaise between The Bahamas and the UN body that administers the convention."
Noting that the legislation has to be passed by parliament, Zonicle said the steering committee felt it best to meet with all stakeholders to be sure that all the mechanisms are in place before that happens.
She said a few international representatives were on hand, who acted as resource persons for the group.
"There is one who deals with declaration and one who deals with the transit of chemicals...," she explained, adding that there were experts from the United States and Canada, all of whom have been a part of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
"We have a draft plan as to how we would monitor or obtain information and so we'd get their input on whether or not we're on the right track ... So we will be able to benefit from their knowledge and experience."
Late last year, in its efforts to move aggressively to-wards the ratification of the Chemical Weapons Conven-tion, the government held a consultative meeting in Grand Bahama to familiarize stakeholders with its obligations.
That meeting, held at the Our Lucaya Resort, hosted members of the OPCW including Deputy Director-General of the H.E., John Freeman, who expressed appreciation to the government for its efforts to bring forward the process of ratification by The Bahamas and the preparations for it to become a full-fledged party of the Convention and a member of the OPCW.
He explained that by signing the Convention on March 2, 1994, The Bahamas "clearly pledged that it shares the noble goals enshrined in the Convention and the vision of a world free of chemical weapons."
By ratifying the Conven-tion, he noted, The Bahamas will join the large majority of the international community in working towards the full and effective implementation of a total ban on one of the most inhumane weapons ever produced.
The Chemical Weapons Convention, he explained, provides an effective, comprehensive and non-discriminatory legal instrument to ensure both the destruction of existing stockpiles of chemical weapons and the prevention of their proliferation through effective international verification.
Through its prohibitions, the Convention advances the objectives of disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as of international peace and security, he added.
"The Convention further requires effective domestic implementation of its provisions and aims at promoting international co-operation in the peaceful uses of chemistry, as well as the right of states parties to be provided protection should they ever be threatened by or attacked with chemical weapons," he said.
Pointing out that aggressive measures have already been taken to destroy declared chemical weapons, the De-puty Director-General said to date, 100 percent of such weapon stockpiles have been inventoried and verified.
Additionally, over 42 percent of the more than 71,000 metric tons of chemical weapons agents declared by six states parties have been destroyed.
© 2009 The Freeport News