India Joins Russia in Voting Against West-Backed Move to Expand Powers of OPCW

New Delhi: India voted against a UK-backed move that will allow the global chemical weapons watchdog to apportion blame for illegal attacks, criticising the decision to grant “unchecked powers” to the head of the group which could be used for “partisan” purposes.
On Wednesday, more than two-thirds of the member states of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) voted to authorise the international body to identify the perpetrators and sponsors of a chemical weapons attack. It also specifically called on the OPCW’s technical secretariat to begin work on identifying the perpetrators behind the use of chemical weapons in Syria.The draft decision, sponsored by 30 countries, was adopted at the fourth special session of the conference of the states parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention at the Hague, with 82 in favour and 24 negative votes.While Europe, the United States and their allies voted ‘yes’, there was strong opposition from Russia and Iran. India was in the camp of the nay-sayers.“As our concerns have not been addressed by the draft decision, India has decided to vote against the draft decision,” said India’s permanent representative to the OPCW, Venu Rajamony in his explanation of vote.
He stated that India had studied the draft “very carefully and had consulted with the drafters and the main co-sponsors of the draft decision”.But India felt that that consultations conducted by the sponsor on the draft decision with “far reaching importance and implications” were larely “incomplete”.
Rajamony stated that the legitimacy of the Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC] can only be maintained if all provisions are effectively followed when allegations of the use of toxic munitions are made.“Following scrupulously the provisions of the CWC, the procedures embedded within, and respecting the distribution of powers and responsibilities of various policy making organs is the only way to garner international legitimacy and ensure that all actions under the convention meet the twin requirements of effective action and international acceptance,” he said.
The Indian diplomat described the CWC as a “very finely balanced cooperative structure” between various policy making organs and the technical secretariat headed by the director general.
He pointed out that the convention was envisaged to be driven by member states, with assistance from the technical secretariat. This would be turned up-side down by the UK-sponsored decision, he argued, specifically pointing to difficulties in operative paragraphs 10 and 20 in the decision. “While the convention gives primacy and oversight to the executive council and the conference of states parties over the functioning of the technical secretariat, the latest decision will grant the director general.