H.E. Mr Ahmet Üzümcü
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
Professor Rohan Gunaratna
Professor of Security Studies
International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR)
The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is an unprecedented international treaty in the field of disarmament. It gives concrete shape to the international community’s will to eliminate the scourge of chemical weapons through overseeing the destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles and carrying out activities to prevent their re-emergence.
The Convention has been in operation for 20 years. During this time, nearly 95 percent of declared chemical weapons stockpiles have been destroyed. The membership of the treaty has steadily increased and today 192 countries subscribe to this comprehensive global ban on chemical weapons. The success of the Convention has not only strengthened the norm against chemical weapons, it underscores the importance and effectiveness of collective action in the service of worthy international causes.
However, there are challenges. The use of chemical weapons in Syria and Iraqi is a source of serious concern. The OPCW will continue to make every effort to establish the facts surrounding the allegations of use. The use of chemical weapons by non-state actors, in particular terrorists, is a major security risk that the OPCW will continue to tackle. The Convention has also foreseen several capacity-building activities for the promotion of peaceful use of chemistry and assistance and protection.
About the Speaker:
H.E. Mr Ahmet Üzümcü was appointed Director-General of the OPCW in December 2009 by the Conference of the States Parties at its Fourteenth Session and began his first term of office on 25 July 2010. He was reappointed for a second term by the Conference of the States Parties at its Eighteenth Session in December 2013. Immediately prior to his appointment as OPCW Director-General, he served as the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Turkey to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Ambassador Üzümcü is a career diplomat with vast experience in multilateral diplomacy. During the past decade, he has represented Turkey at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Council, the Conference on Disarmament, the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva. Ambassador Üzümcü chaired the Conference on Disarmament for four weeks in March 2008 and attended various disarmament-related meetings and conferences in Geneva, Brussels and elsewhere. He has a thorough understanding of and considerable expertise in political-military affairs, disarmament and proliferation issues.
Previously, Ambassador Üzümcü served as Deputy Undersecretary of State for Bilateral Political Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey. From June 2002 to August 2004, he was the Permanent Representative of Turkey to the NATO Council in Brussels. He held the post of Ambassador of Turkey to Israel from 1999 to 2002. From 1996 to 1999, he headed the Personnel Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara. Prior to that, he served in various posts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as at the Turkish delegation to NATO (1986-1989), the Turkish Embassy in Vienna (1979-1982) and as a Consul in Aleppo(1982-1984).
In addition to his diplomatic experience, Ambassador Üzümcü served in an international capacity as a staff member of NATO’s Political Directorate from 1989 to 1994, where he contributed to work on NATO’s Partnership for Peace initiative in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War and travelled extensively in Eastern European countries and the former Soviet Union.
Ambassador Üzümcü was born in Armutlu, Turkey, on 30 August 1951 and holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations with a specialisation in public administration from the Faculty of Political Sciences, Ankara University.
Ambassador Üzümcü received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the OPCW in December 2013. In January 2014, he was awarded the Medaglia d’Onore and the Sigillum Magnum by the University of Bologna in Italy. In December 2015, H.E. Mr Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development of France, decorated Director-General Üzümcü with the Légion d’honneur (rank of officer).