A Critical Appraisal of the OPCW’s Media and Public Affairs Policy in the Context of Multilateral Disarmament and Non Proliferation Regimes

Date: 2010
File: Link
Multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation treaties such as the CWC, BWC, CTBT and NPT come with verification regimes that must balance confidentiality against transparency. While the CWC regime has achieved a great degree of intergovernmental transparency, civil and private stakeholders, in addition to the news media and the general public, do not enjoy the same level of access to information.
The public profile of the OPCW is not commensurate with a membership of 188 States and 13 years of effective implementation of the CWC, including over 5,000 chemical demilitarisation and industry inspections. Nearly 60% of the world’s declared stockpiles of approximately 70,000 metric tonnes of chemical weapons agent have been verified by the OPCW, yet the CWC is significantly less visible than nuclear treaties such as the NPT, by a factor of one to five, and the CTBT, which has yet to enter into force. In addition to confidentiality requirements, OPCW’s low profile is due to issues related to the implementation of the media and public affairs policy, such as overly rigid clearance procedures, unclear guidelines for the public availability of official documents, and lack of web governance, including inadequate IT infrastructure and support for OPCW’s public information requirements.

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