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April 29, 2002
Volume 80, Number 17
CENEAR 80 17 p. 10
ISSN 0009-2347


CHEMICAL WEAPONS

CW AGENCY'S HEAD ROLLS
U.S. allegations force removal of OPCW's director-general

LOIS EMBER

Last week, the U.S. successfully forced the ouster of José M. Bustani, a Brazilian diplomat who has been director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons since 1997. OPCW, headquartered in The Hague, oversees implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention now that it has been ratified by 145 countries.

8017Bustani
Bustani
In an unprecedented special session, a majority of countries present and voting heeded U.S. charges of gross mismanagement and vindictive leadership of OPCW by Bustani, and voted 48 to 7 to relieve him of his duties. Forty-three countries abstained. Another 47 did not attend the meeting. No successor has been named, although whoever is chosen is likely to come from a developing country.

In an address to the special session on April 21, Bustani characterized his probable ouster as an "unprecedented, ruthless, and arbitrary procedure" orchestrated by the U.S. He said he considered "the attack launched against me as an attack on the OPCW itself."

The U.S., however, cited Bustani's financial and personnel missteps, his "polarizing and confrontational" management style, and misplaced priorities as reasons to oust him. "But the precipitating event," the one that launched the U.S. campaign, explains a State Department official, "was Bustani's sudden decision to remove his deputy, Australian John Gee, from executive functions."

With Bustani gone, the U.S. plans to make "accelerated payment of the money we owe," the official says. The U.S. is in arrears this year by nearly $6.5 million. The U.S. contributes 22% of OPCW's annual budget of about $60 million.



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