28th Feb 2024

Russia loses seat on board of chemical weapons watchdog

  • The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons won the Nobel Prize in 2013 (Photo: OPCW)
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Russia on Wednesday (29 November) lost its seat on the board of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), for the first time in the organisation's history.

Four countries — Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania — were competing for three seats on the OPCW executive council for the upcoming period 2024-2026. Russia received the fewest votes.

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The result of the vote, which left Russia out of the executive council of the chemical weapons watchdog, was welcomed by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

"OPCW is a very reputable international body and terrorists have no place in it," said Zelensky on X, formerly Twitter.

Zelensky described the outcome of the vote as a "logical result" of the ongoing aggression of Russia against Ukraine. "I am grateful to all of the countries that supported our candidacies and voted Russia out."

Russia's role in the international arena "keeps diminishing" while "its isolation keeps growing," he added referring to similar situations where Russia lost elections to international bodies.

In October, for example, Russia also failed to regain its seat at the UN Human Rights Council, based in Geneva.

"Russia was clearly not considered as fit to hold such a position of responsibility, as it continues its aggression against Ukraine," said the Czech ministry of foreign affairs.

Lithuanian foreign affairs minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, deemed Wednesday's election result as "good news". "It's time for all international organisations to clean themselves up in order to maintain their relevance and credibility."

The OPCW executive council is made up of 41 states, elected for a period of two years.

From the EU, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Spain, Poland, and Lithuania will sit in the OPCW executive council.

Meanwhile, EU special envoy for no proliferation and disarmament Marjolijn van Deelen confirmed on Wednesday a contribution of €5.3m in support of the OPCW activities.

The OPCW won the Nobel Prize in 2013 for its efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.


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