The need for radically reformed governance at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) by Tim Hayward

26 June 2019 — Tim Hayward

It was recently revealed that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had suppressed evidence about an alleged chemical attack in 2018. This scandal was downplayed in the mainstream media, but its implications are serious. The OPCW had already been losing the confidence of a number of states, including those of the Non-Aligned Movement as well as China and Russia. The organisation’s credibility has now been called into question in the eyes of all impartial observers.

The suppression of the Engineering Assessment of the Douma incident was not an isolated aberration, according to the latest Briefing Note produced by Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Jake Mason and Piers Robinson of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (WGSPM) – the organisation entrusted with the original leak of the suppressed assessment.

That trust is based on mutual respect between professional researchers. McKeigue and colleagues ‘are well aware that most staff in the OPCW continue to work professionally for the organisation’s mission of upholding the Chemical Weapons Convention.’

It is also grounded in a sense of shared purpose as human beings on this planet. The reason virtually every nation on Earth has ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) – whose provisions the OPCW is supposed to implement – is to prevent that particular source of atrocious crime from being used anywhere.

Quite simply, the very future of the OPCW is put in jeopardy by the political manipulations that have been undermining its credibility as an honest or impartial watchdog.

The latest WGSPM Briefing Note concerns real crimes – up to and including mass murder – that are not being properly investigated. It shows that investigations into them appear may have been hampered by the very organisation we have all entrusted to carry them out.

So the authors are clear what this means:

The credibility of the OPCW cannot be restored simply by finding some way to reverse what were purported to be the findings of the FFM on the Douma incident, but only by an independent re-examination of all its previous investigations of alleged chemical attacks in Syria, and a radical reform of its governance and procedures.

Read the Briefing Note: ‘How the OPCW’s investigation of the Douma incident was nobbled’, by Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Jake Mason, Piers Robinson Members of Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media, 26 June 2019

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