“Let us honour the victims of chemical warfare by reaffirming our commitment to strengthening the Convention, which is the only instrument that bans an entire category of weapons of mass destruction under strict international verification,” Mr. Ban says in his message on the Day of Remembrance for All Victims of Chemical Warfare, which is observed annually on 29 April. “Let us also remember the suffering of the families of these victims, as we work together to free the world, once and for all, from the horrors of each and every weapon of mass destruction.”The Chemical Weapons Convention, which entered into force on this date 13 years ago, establishes far-reaching rights and obligations aimed at freeing the world of chemical weapons.Important advances have been made in achieving that great goal, the Secretary-General notes in his message. For example, as of 31 March, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has verified the destruction of 58 per cent of the world’s declared chemical weapons stockpiles. In addition, 89 per cent of all chemical weapons production facilities have been destroyed or converted to peaceful uses, while three States have eliminated their chemical weapon stockpiles. The OPCW has also conducted more than 4,000 inspections in 81 States parties, including verification activities at commercial enterprises, which testifies to the support the global chemical industry has given to achieving the goals of the Convention, Mr. Ban says.However, full implementation of the Convention and achieving universal membership remain significant challenges, he adds, urging States that have not yet become parties to do so without further delay. 29 April 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for strengthening the international treaty banning chemical weapons as a way to honour all those who have lost their lives to this scourge.