Special address by H.E Fernando Arias

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

Over the past 25 years, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has been a remarkable success for multilateral disarmament. Australia has been a key part of that story in helping establish the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and assisting Asia Pacific member states in implementing their obligations. Yet, in an increasingly complex and uncertain global environment, the OPCW faces multiple political, scientific and technical challenges that it must address to remain fit-for-purpose.

In this address, the Director-General of the OPCW, H.E. Ambassador Fernando Arias, will detail the achievements of the Organisation, outline the priorities of the Organisation, and look at how Australia and the OPCW are working together to counter chemical threats.


H.E. Ambassador Fernando Arias was appointed Director-General of the OPCW in December 2017 by the Conference of the States Parties at its 22nd Session. He began his four-year term of office on 25 July 2018. He was re-appointed for a second term by the 26th Session of the Conference of States Parties (25 July 2022 - 24 July 2026). Prior to his appointment as OPCW Director-General, he served as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Kingdom of Spain to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and as Permanent Representative to the OPCW from 2014-2018.

Ambassador Arias has been a career diplomat since 1979 and has extensive multilateral experience regarding weapons of mass destruction as well as bilateral experience in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, North America, and South America. In the past decade, he has represented Spain at international organisations such as the OPCW and the United Nations (UN). Additionally, he also served as the Vice-President of the OPCW's Executive Council from 2017 to 2018. At the UN, he was Spain's Ambassador and Permanent Representative from 2012 to 2013. While at the UN, he also served as Vice-President of the 68th Session of the General Assembly and Vice President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Previously, Ambassador Arias represented Spain as Deputy Chief of Mission in the People's Republic of China. He was also Ambassador to Bulgaria, Ambassador to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (now North Macedonia) while in residence in Sofia, Bulgaria, Director General of the Protocol Department of the Presidency of the Spanish Government from 2000 to 2004, Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, and Ambassador to the Republic of Mali. In addition to various posts held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain, he was also Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassies of Spain in the Republic of Argentina, the United Mexican States, and the Republic of Romania. He began his diplomatic career as Secretary and Cultural Counsellor at the Embassy of Spain to the Netherlands.


This event will be recorded. A reception will be held from 7pm following the lecture.