500 tons of Libya’s remaining chemical weapon stockpile were recently removed from the country in an international effort. The chemical weapons were created and developed during Moammar Gadhafi’s rule. Even after his abdication, Libya continued to possess chemical weapons and their precursors from the previous regime despite efforts of discardment. The use of chemical weapons is globally prohibited by the Geneva Protocol, signed in 1925, and as a customary International Humanitarian Law.
The effort came after Libya’s UN-backed government submitted a formal request back in July for international support to discard its chemical supplies. The Danish-led international operation, coordinated by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), successfully eliminated the last of the country’s chemical weapon precursors. A Danish ship received the chemicals at the Libyan port of Misrata on August 27 and headed towards Germany. Moving the weapons, UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said, “will help ensure chemical weapons precursors do not fall into the hands of extremist groups, including Daesh.” Along with Finland who also aided the maritime operation and the United Kingdom, the OPCW revealed that eight countries–Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Spain and the United States–supplied personnel, technical expertise, information, equipment, finance and other resources.
“This OPCW-coordinated international effort has achieved a major milestone,” said the OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu. The Libyan government had initially arranged to remove its chemical stockpile back in 2013, but its plans were deterred by the rising instability of the country’s political situation and the terrifying plausibility of a mid-operation intervention by insurgents. Hence, the recent news that Libya’s remaining chemical weapons supply has finally, after various failed attempts, been removed from the country comes as a huge sigh of relief and positive step for the future. As said by Uzumcu: “Removal of these chemicals is the first stage of an ongoing operation to verifiably eliminate the remnants of Libya’s now-defunct chemical weapon program.”