The Government of Andorra has contributed a further €6,000 to a special Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Trust Fund to support the construction of a new facility, the OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology (“ChemTech Centre”) and a further €5,000 to the voluntary trust fund in support of the International Support Network for Victims of Chemical Weapons.
The contributions were formalised on 22 January during an online ceremony between the Permanent Representative of Andorra to the OPCW, H.E. Ambassador Esther Rabasa Grau, and OPCW Director-General, H.E. Mr Fernando Arias.
Ambassador Grau stated: “With this second voluntary contribution, Andorra expresses its will to take part in the last lap of the funding for establishing the new ChemTech Centre. This Centre will increase the training and capacity building capabilities that the Secretariat can offer to the States Parties. Covid-19 has shown us that international threats require an international response and likewise the worldwide threat from chemical weapons use needs to be addressed by multilateralism. Andorra also continues to support the essential work of the International Support Network for Victims of Chemical Weapons.”
The Director-General expressed: “I thank the Government of Andorra for its support that will enable the OPCW to continue anchoring the chemical disarmament and non-proliferation infrastructure into a solid bedrock of science.”
Director-General Arias appealed to all OPCW States Parties in a position to make voluntary contributions to do so. He further emphasised the important role the new ChemTech Centre will play in strengthening the OPCW’s ability to address chemical weapon threats and enhance capacity building activities. He highlighted that “all contributions, regardless of size, are greatly appreciated”.
So far, 45 countries, the European Union, and three other donors have contributed or pledged to contribute financially to the ChemTech Centre project, and a considerable amount has been raised to date.
The project to build the ChemTech Centre is on-going and seeks to strengthen the OPCW’s capabilities to fully address new and emerging chemical weapons threats, as well as to support capacity building in OPCW Member States. The current OPCW Laboratory and Equipment Store are central to the effectiveness and integrity of the verification regime of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and they also contribute to the OPCW’s capacity-building and international cooperation activities. However, the current facility will soon no longer be fit-for-purpose due to its ageing infrastructure, space constraints, larger workloads, and new missions with new areas of work.
A new facility is required to meet the demands of OPCW Member States for enhanced verification tools, improved detection capabilities and response measures, as well as increased capacity-building activities. The ChemTech Centre will also help the OPCW to keep pace with developments in science and technology and new chemical weapons threats. Construction of the ChemTech Centre is scheduled to begin in 2021 and the building is currently planned to be operational by the end of 2022.
To date, the following Member States have contributed or pledged to contribute to the project: Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America. The European Union, Israel (a signatory state) and other donors have also contributed.
In 2011, the Conference of the States Parties established the International Support Network for Victims of Chemical Weapons and a voluntary trust fund for this purpose. The OPCW Member States Parties can support the Network by providing medical treatment to victims of chemical weapons in their countries; organising events to raise awareness at the national level on victims of chemical weapons; exchanging information on experiences related to treatment of victims of chemical weapons, through e.g. providing research scholarships to the developing States Parties in the field of the treatment of victims of chemical weapons; and facilitating materials- and equipment-related assistance to States Parties to assist and support the victims of chemical weapons.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Member States, oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
Over 98% of all declared chemical weapon stockpiles have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.