The OPCW/PC History Project
Securing Chemical Disarmament: How the OPCW was built
August 1992 the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva completed twenty
years of work on the text of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
In May 1997, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
(OPCW), created by the CWC, started
work in The Hague. Opening the first session of the Conference of
the States Parties to the CWC, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called
the Convention an "unprecedented agreement in the field of disarmament
and non-proliferation". The CWC is the only international treaty
to require and to verify the disarmament and non-proliferation of
an entire category of weapons of mass destruction. That the OPCW
could operate effectively at entry into force of the Convention
represents the achievement of the OPCW Preparatory Commission ("the
The aims of
the HSP project were:
and index an extensive archive of the Commission's work, both
documentary and oral.
a history of the Commission. This has since been published as
"The Creation of the Organisation for the Prohibition of
Chemical Weapons. A Case Study in the Birth of an Intergovernmental
Organisation", edited by Ian R.Kenyon and Daniel Feakes.
(2007, TMC Asser Press, The Hague)
and evaluate the process by which a functioning organization
and verification system was created out of a treaty text.
the ways in which, and the reasons why, the OPCW differs from
the concept developed in Geneva.
generic lessons that can be learnt for the establishment of
other international organizations.
archive includes primary documents but a main focus was on collecting
oral or written contributions from diplomats, officials and representatives
of the worldwide chemical industry involved in the Commission's
work. Some had retired from their previous positions, others were
still working in government, some still in the same or related areas,
and others still worked for the OPCW
Technical Secretariat. Contributions were in the form of written
pieces and interview or workshop transcripts.
The HSP project
team comprised Daniel
Kenyon and Julian
Robinson. Kenyon was Executive Secretary (chief executive) of
the Commission for its whole existence and has many contacts in
former national delegations to the Commission as well as its staff
members. He is now a Visiting Fellow of SPRU
- Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
Robinson has followed the negotiation of the CWC since the 1960s.
Daniel Feakes spent three years working as a researcher in the OPCW
and has continued to research and publish on the CWC since then.
He is a Research Fellow of SPRU.
A key HSP resource
is the Sussex Harvard Information Bank,
its unique archive of material on chemical/biological warfare issues,
which is open to other researchers and students in the field. The
project team used their long involvement in the maintenance of this
archive when collecting and indexing material for the project archive.
These reports first appeared in the OPCW quarterly journal Chemical
Disarmament (formerly Synthesis), available online
on the OPCW website.
Launch report for the OPCW/PC History
Progress report no 1 (June 2003)
Progress report no 2 (July 2003)
Progress report no 3 (August
- October 2003)
Progress report no 4 (November
2003 - February 2004)
Progress report no 5