José Bustani

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José Maurício Bustani is a Brazilian diplomat who was the first director-general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons until he was ousted after falling out with the US government in April 2002. He was Ambassador of Brazil to the United Kingdom between 2003 and 2008 and is currently Ambassador of Brazil to France.

Bustani was born in 1945 in Porto Velho, Brazil. He received his law degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro in 1967, and attended the Rio Branco Institute in the same year, after which he joined the Brazilian foreign service.

Director General of the OPCW[edit]

Bustani was appointed the first director general of the OPCW in 1997. His four-year term was due to expire in 2001. However, he was unanimously reelected to this position one year early, in May 2000 for a term of four years.

Removal from Office[edit]

Soon after, Bustani fell out of favour with the U.S., who now began to lobby aggressively for Bustani’s removal, in a campaign orchestrated by U.S. official John Bolton.[1] Finally, at Bolton's behest, a special meeting was held in The Hague on Sunday, April 21, 2002. Following what are reputed to have been both secretive and very tempestuous deliberations[citation needed], a vote was held, with Bustani's removal being carried by a vote of 48–7, with 43 abstentions.[2] This was the first time in history that the head of a major international organization was removed during his/her term of office.[citation needed]

There is much controversy surrounding the reasons behind Bustani's removal. Bustani had been negotiating with the Iraqi government, and was hoping to persuade them to sign up to the OPCW, thus granting OPCW inspectors full access to Iraq's purported "chemical weapons arsenal". If Bustani had succeeded, this would have placed a formidable obstacle in the path of the Bush administration's war plans, by removing their ostensible motive. Bustani's supporters insist this was the reason why the US forced him out.[citation needed]

The Bush administration claimed that Bustani's position was no longer tenable, stating three main reasons: "polarizing and confrontational conduct", "mismanagement issues" and "advocacy of inappropriate roles for the OPCW".

Bustani's supporters also claim that the U.S. ambassador issued threats against OPCW members in order to coerce them to support the U.S. initiative against Bustani, including the withdrawal of U.S. support for the organization. It has been said[1][according to whom?] that Bustani was bullied out from the OPCW by John Bolton — something that appears consistent[original research?] with what was said about Bolton's practices during the U.S. Senate hearings prior to his appointment as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Bustani filed a complaint with the International Labour Organization Administrative Tribunal, which a year later set aside the dismissal decision, and provided moral as well as material financial compensation to Bustani; Bustani did not seek reinstatement.[3]

According to the Statement of the Delegation of Brazil,[4] on the IX Conference of States Parties to the CWC (Chemical Weapons Convention, a treaty signed in 1993) on 3 December 2004, he donated 100% of his compensation to the International Cooperation programmes of the OPCW. A letter from Ambassador Bustani regarding this donation and comments about the final Judgement of the ILOAT on the issue of his removal can be found in a National Paper distributed by Brazil, document C-9/NAT.1, dated 13 August 2004.


  1. ^ George Monbiot[who?]. "Arresting John Bolton". Retrieved 2008-05-28.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^
  3. ^ Judgment 2232. ILO Administrative Tribunal
  4. ^ Statement of the Delegation of Brazil in PDF Archived 2008-05-29 at the Wayback Machine.

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