In 2013, the international community came together to protect the Syrian population by committing to the elimination of Syria’s declared stockpile of chemical weapons, a feat achieved the following year. Together, the United Nations and the Nobel-Prize winning Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are credited with achieving one of the few breakthroughs in containing the ongoing crisis in Syria. What lessons can be learned for application in other conflict areas, especially as OPCW continues its work destroying chemical weapons facilities in Syria this year?
On April 9, the Foreign Policy program at Brookings and The Hague Institute for Global Justice hosted OPCW Director General Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü for a discussion about the process of dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and implications for peace, security, and accountability. This event marks the second annual Justice Stephen Breyer International Law Lecture, which addresses critical issues of international law and policy. Brookings Executive Vice President Martin Indyk introduced Ambassador Üzümcü. Deputy Mayor of The Hague Ingrid van Engelshoven provided brief opening remarks, and Abiodun Williams, president of The Hague Institute for Global Justice, moderated the discussion. Senior fellow at the Middle East Institute Robert S. Ford (U.S. Ambassador to Syria, 2010-2014) and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mallory Stewart joined the discussion with Ambassador Üzümcü, following his keynote address.