Civil Society at the CSP
FAQs + Application info
How to Participate at the Conference of States Parties
One of the main functions of the CWC Coalition is to facilitate greater civil society/non-governmnetal organization (NGO) interest and participation at the annual Conference of State Parties (CSP) to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The following section is intended to answer some of the most common questions regarding how, and to what extent, civil society can participate in the CSP. For the most up to date information, please visit the OPCW’s NGO web page.
What is the Conference of the States Parties?
Every year, the 193 member states of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) convene in The Hague, The Netherlands to oversee the implementation of the CWC, promote its goals, and review treaty compliance. To learn more about the annual Conference of the States Parties, or “CSP”, visit the OPCW’s website here.
Who can apply to attend the Conference of States Parties (CSP) as a representative of a civil society organization?
According to the Guidelines for Future Attendance and Participation by Non-Governmental Organizations (RC-3/DEC.2), “representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), whose activities/interests are demonstrably relevant to the object and purpose of the Chemical Weapons Convention” may apply to attend the CSP.
Each civil society organization must clearly state in its application how its activities/interests are relevant to the object and purpose of the Convention. To review the purpose of the CWC, please visit the OPCW website. For a list of civil society organizations that attended the CSP-24, click here.
How do you apply to have a representative from your civil society organization attend the CSP?
The OPCW CSP General Committee has developed an online registration portal to streamline the application and review process. As of 2021, the OPCW is using Indico as its event registration platform. The OPCW’s General Committee is responsible for reviewing applications and deciding which NGOs are approved. Registration is now closed for CSP-27, which is currently scheduled for 28 November – 2 December 2022. For the most up-to-date information about the Conference, please visit the OPCW’s web page for CSP-27 here.
The deadline to submit an application is typically in August, and the application review process takes 1-2 months. Be aware of any additional deadlines for visas and other travel documentation required by the Netherlands and your home country.
What role does an approved civil society organization play at the CSP?
Civil society organizations that have been approved to attend the CSP are referred to as “accredited NGOs.” Typically, accredited NGOs are entitled to:
- Access to open meetings and plenary sessions at the World Forum (seated in the public gallery)
- Access to side events in the OPCW building
- The ability to use display space for documents and/or exhibits that are relevant to the object and purpose of the Convention at designated sites
- Access to public documents and statements of the CSP
- The opportunity to contribute to an NGO statement, which are presented during a designated section of the General Debate
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NGO participation was limited at the CSP-26. Accredited NGOs submitted pre-recorded joint statements and written NGO statements. These statements are available on the OPCW website and the CWC Coalition statement archive.
How does an NGO representative register to make a statement on behalf of their NGO during the designated section after the General Debate?
Important: In order to participate in either a joint civil society statement or an individual NGO statement, you MUST apply to the Conference and receive notification of approval by the General Committee.
The CWC Coalition coordinates civil society statements. Following the CSP general debate and national statements, a one-hour plenary session is allotted to civil society statement presentations. Due to the one-hour time constraint, a limited number of NGO representatives (usually 20) give brief 3-4 minute plenary statements.
A more detailed explanation of how to participate in a joint or individual NGO statement will be published here once more information is known about CSP-27.
How many NGOs are allowed to attend?
There is no limit on the number of NGOs that can apply to attend the conference. Around 100 NGOs attend annually. The CWC Coalition encourages and promotes increased participation of NGOs, especially NGOs and civil society experts from under-represented nations. However, participation is contingent on the results of the application review process undertaken by the Public Affairs Office and the General Committee.
What is the Open Forum and how can an NGO present at this event?
Over the course of the week-long conference, the CWCC hosts one or more NGO Open Forum side events. NGOs have the opportunity to present their work on topics relevant to the object/purpose of the CWC and foster discussion with Conference delegates, the Technical Secretariat, and other stakeholders.
At present, the OPCW has not announced if/how COVID-19 precautions will impact in-person participation of civil society/NGOs as CSP-27. Once more information is available, additional details and instructions will be posted about the Open Forum.
Why is it important for civil society/NGOs to be included at the annual CSP?
Civil society – a term which describes organizations and individuals that are not associated with government, such as non-profits, universities, cultural institutions, chemical industry, etc. – brings expertise and diverse perspectives to the annual Conference of the States Parties. Experts in the field of chemistry, chemical industry professionals, victims-rights advocates, and more are given the chance to share their unique research, observations, and recommendations. Civil society representative also play an important role in spreading awareness about the CWC in their home countries.