Wed Apr 4th, 2018 at 07:53:00 PM EST
Previous time the European supported OPCW was in crisis when the US forced out José Bustani in 2002. He was too independent in regards to the investigation of Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons program and/or destruction thereof. The sacking of Bustani didn't create an uproar, but he was eventually compensated for a wrongful dismissal by decision of the ILO Administrative Tribunal.
Chemical Weapons Convention Chief Removed at U.S. Initiative
The head of the organization implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) was voted out of office by convention member states on April 22, ending a nearly three-month-long diplomatic offensive led by the United States.
With 43 delegations abstaining, states voted 48 to 7 to remove José Bustani, a Brazilian who has headed the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) since its inception almost five years ago. Two-thirds of states attending and voting had to vote in favor of removing Bustani for him to be unseated. Many European countries, U.S. allies, and India backed the U.S.-led motion of dismissal; Belarus, Brazil, China, Cuba, Iran, Mexico, and Russia voted against Bustani's removal.
The United States, which pays 22 percent of the OPCW's budget, had made implicit threats not to pay the rest of its dues to the organization if Bustani maintained his position, according to an OPCW official. This prompted speculation that other countries went along with the U.S. initiative to avoid depriving the organization of needed funds.
More below the fold ...
Speaking after the vote, Bustani said, "I clearly made some people in Washington very uncomfortable because I was too independent. They want somebody more obedient," The New York Times reported. The former director-general was also reported to have complained that his removal was illegal. Although the conference used its normal rules for voting on substantive issues, the convention does not specify rules for removing its head.
The State Department hailed Bustani's removal as "an essential first step in restoring stability and sound management" to the OPCW and said the United States "will work closely with other concerned member states to restore the organization to sound financial footing and to overcome the other financial difficulties that it has faced in recent years." A U.S. official indicated that this would involve expediting payment of remaining U.S. arrears.
The OPCW voted today 15-6 to sideline Russian investigators and allow the host nation United Kingdom to keep the lead and choice of their counterpart France for an "independent" result. The OPCW in the back seat?
U.N. Delegates Voice Alarm over Mounting Chemical Weapon Threats, as Disarmament Commission Concludes General Debate
Elaborating on that point, the United Kingdom's delegate emphasized that collective global security depended on the comprehensive set of rules, norms and standards that States had painstakingly built to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Voicing concern that the Russian Federation had flagrantly violated those norms in the recent Salisbury incident -- "the first use of chemical weapons on European soil since the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) foundation" -- he said disrespect for international norms and laws threatened the basis of democracies, open societies and free economies. Those hostile activities put everyone at risk, he stressed.
The representative of the Russian Federation, rejecting those allegations as he spoke in exercise of the right of reply, said they remained totally unsubstantiated. Calling for a full investigation of the Salisbury incident, he voiced concern that the United Kingdom continued to block the Russian Federation's access to its own citizens. In addition, the United Kingdom had failed to request a special session of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Executive Council to discuss the incident, as provided for in its statute, having instead delivered its own verdict on the matter. In that context, the Russian Federation itself had called for a special meeting of OPCW, which would be convened soon and include specific questions about the incident.
○ Statement by John Foggo, Acting UK Permanent Representative | OPCW - April 4, 2018 |
○ OPCW Representation Members Executive Council
○ OPCW Director-General Commends Major Milestone as Russia Completes Destruction of Chemical Weapons Stockpile under OPCW Verification - Sept. 2017