The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was thrust into the spotlight in recent weeks when it was required to oversee the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria.
Since the 1990s, the OPCW has been implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention, the first international treaty to outlaw an entire class of weapons.
The convention prohibits the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons.
It came into force in 1997 and has been ratified by 189 states. Of those, seven - Albania, India, Iraq, Libya, Russia, the US and a country identified by the OPCW as "a State Party" but widely believed to be South Korea - have declared stockpiles of chemical weapons. These include mustard gas and nerve agents like sarin and VX.
The OPCW has conducted more than 5,000 inspections in 86 countries. All the declared stockpiles of chemical weapons have been inventoried and verified.
Funded by its member states, the OPCW has a budget of about 74 million euros (S$124 million) and employs about 500 people. Its director-general is Turkish diplomat Ahmet Uzumcu.
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