UN-backed anti-chemical weapons treaty turns 20

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Minute of silence being observed at the annual Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare held at the Headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague. 2015. Photo: OPCW

Progress made in eliminating the world's chemical weapons stockpiles is "under threat" the UN Secretary-General warned on Wednesday.

António Guterres released a video-message celebrating the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention as well as the founding of the OPCW, the UN-recognized chemical weapons watchdog.

In the past two decades, 95 percent of the world's declared stockpiles have been eliminated.

Jocelyne Sambira has more.

The historic Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are rightly celebrating two decades of success, the UN chief said on Wednesday. 

The treaty prohibits the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by States parties. 

A hundred and ninety-two countries are party to the Convention. 

Israel has not ratified it so far, and Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan have yet to ratify or sign it. 

However, even in countries that are party to the anti-chemical weapons convention, like Syria, attacks using sarin gas and other chemicals are still happening, undermining the progress made. 

In early April, Khan Sheikun was the latest town to get hit by a suspected chemical attack that left dozens dead. 

Here's UN Secretary-General António Guterres. 

"The Organization has helped eliminate most of the world's declared stockpiles. But progress is under threat. In the Middle East, belligerents are breaking the norm against chemical weapons. The recent attack in Syria was a horrific reminder of the stakes. There can be no impunity for these crimes. I hope all States will support OPCW's critical fact-finding mission as well as its critical joint-investigating mechanism with the United Nations. For 20 years, we have been allies in this cause. Now, let us renew our resolve to consign these diabolical weapons to the pages of history."

In 2013, the OPCW was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its "extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons". 

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations. 

Duration: 1’36″

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