The OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, made his first visit to the African region since assuming office in late July with visits to Namibia and South Africa on 27 and 28 September 2010, respectively.
In Windhoek, Director-General Üzümcü participated in the opening session of the 8th Regional Meeting of Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) National Authorities of States Parties in Africa, jointly organised by the OPCW and by the Government of Namibia. The gathering attracted 52 participants from 38 States Parties* - the most ever for a National Authorities meeting in Africa - and was opened by the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, the Hon. Tjekero Tweya.
In his statement to the meeting, the Director-General noted that the OPCW has reached out to institutions in Africa dealing with international peace and security issues, placing particular emphasis on working with regional and sub-regional Parliamentary organisations. He stressed the importance of developing greater synergies through regional and sub-regional cooperation in Africa, and that the Secretariat has been taking pro-active steps to encourage such cooperation among States Parties.
While in Windhoek Director-General Üzümcü also met with a number of senior Namibian officials, including the Hon. Dr. Hage Geingob, Minister of Trade and Industry; the Hon Isak Katali, the Minister of Mines and Energy; the Hon. Peya Mushelenga, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; and the Hon. Mrs L. Kasingo, Deputy Speaker of the Namibian Parliament. He provided the Namibian representatives an update on the status of implementation of the CWC, including measures taken by the OPCW to strengthen cooperation with States Parties in Africa.
In South Africa, the Director-General met with the Chairperson of the South African National Authority, Ambassador Abdul Minty, and visited the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria, where he discussed the role of NGOs and academia in helping to promote the Convention. He also toured Protechnik Laboratories, which has closely cooperated with the OPCW in training programmes to build CWC implementation capacity in African institutions and laboratories.
*Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
OPCW NEWS 30/2010 THE HAGUE, 5 OCTOBER 2010