The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Government of Ecuador assisted chemical emergency responders and other members of CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) national defence systems from Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC) in advancing their operational resilience in countering chemical threats. The online workshop, held from 17 to 19 May, was co-organised by OPCW’s Technical Secretariat and Ecuador’s National Authority for Chemical and Biological Weapons at the Ministry of National Defence.
During the opening session, Ministerial Cabinet Undersecretary, General of Division, Mr Francisco Drouet Chiriboga, stated: “CBRN defence military operations require constant training, framed both in realities and hypotheses of emergency events. These operations must also have legal support and protection to carry out prevention, registration, control, and CBRN response activities. The existence of CBRN weapons increases the potential threat to peace in different areas of the world”.
The OPCW’s Special Advisor on Assistance and Protection, Mr Shawn DeCaluwe, underlined: “In the conduct of this workshop, we are very fortunate to benefit from an excellent group of instructors from Ecuador who will guide the participants through topics related to operations in response to a chemical incident. The efforts of our Ecuadorian colleagues are an important contribution to the full and effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention’s Article X on Assistance and Protection Against Chemical Weapons.”
The participants learned about the threat of non-state actor attacks with chemical agents and the operational and organisational measures needed to counter these threats. Experts from Ecuador’s civil and military institutions presented their country’s systems designed for this purpose.
The workshop was attended by 154 military and civilian professionals from a range of response systems, including civil defence, fire departments, police, and CBRN defence military units. They represented the following 12 Member States from the GRULAC region: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Grenada, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Uruguay. Observers from Spain also attended the workshop.
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.