German Statement on “Other Weapons of Mass Destruction”, UN General Assembly, 77th Session, First Committee, 18 October 2022

18.10.2022 - Speech

The Statement was delivered by Thomas Göbel, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Germany to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva

Germany aligns itself with the statement by the European Union.

The Russian Federation started an unjustifiable, unprovoked and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine on February 24th this year. We are outraged that the threat of use of weapons of mass destruction has been evoked in the course of this conflict, and that reckless military action by the Russian Federation is creating serious CBRN risks for the population and the environment. We are particularly concerned that unfounded accusations against Ukraine, a country with an exemplary non-proliferation track record, were used as a pretext to justify an illegal aggression against a sovereign country in the heart of Europe. Russia’s behavior is undermining the international arms control and non-proliferation architecture, including the CWC and the BWC in the run-up to important review conferences of both Conventions.

It is vital that States parties reach decisions at the 9th Review Conference of the Biological Weapoons Convention that enhance compliance, increase transparency, promote confidence building, and strengthen the operational effectiveness of the BWC. Rapid developments in the life sciences and biotechnology offer new ways to fight diseases but also pose a potential risk for abuse to develop biological weapons. We therefore consider it necessary to establish a Scientific and Technological Experts Advisory Board within the framework of the BWC.

The German Presidency of the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction has put an emphasis on biological security. We condemn the disinformation campaign by the Russian Federation targeted at cooperation among members of the Global Partnership and States parties to the BWC in full compliance with Article X of the Convention.

We highlight the importance of the UN Secretary-General’s Mechanism for investigation of possible use of chemical and biological weapons and underscore the need to properly resource, equip and operationalize it. In September we have conducted a “Capstone Simulation Exercise” in Berlin to demonstrate and improve the operational readiness of the mechanism.

This year the Chemical Weapons Convention celebrated its 25th anniversary. The CWC is the world’s most successful disarmament convention and reached with 193 member states almost universality. Together with the OPCW, its implementing organization, it is key for preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons. But in recent years the universally accepted global ban on the use of chemical weapons has come under increasing pressure.

The use of chemical weapons in Syria was a flagrant violation of international law. We are concerned that Syria continues its stance of non-compliance and we strongly call on Syria to fully comply with its obligations under the CWC by resolving all pending issues with regard to its initial declaration and by fully cooperating with the OPCW.

We remain equally concerned by the repeated use of internationally banned nerve agents as in the cases of Mr Skripal and Mr Navalny. The Russian Federation, on whose territory the attack on Mr Navalny took place more than two years ago, has not provided any explanations on the attack, nor have we learned of any criminal investigation of that case. We continue to call on Russia to launch such a substantial investigation, to answer all outstanding questions in full transparency and without further delay and to fully cooperate with the OPCW.

The OPCW, its Director-General and Technical Secretariat have proven their technical and professional expertise and their high degree of impartiality and independence. We applaud the sustained efforts by the OPCW to investigate the use of chemical weapons and to fight impunity, and we reaffirm our continuous support to the OPCW.

The success of the CWC over the past quarter century is the result of the commitment of its States Parties, and all stakeholder will need to play their part in order to prevent the re-emergence of chemical weapons. The upcoming 5th Review Conference will be key for the CWC to remain the world’s most successful multilateral disarmament Regime.

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