An Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) workshop yesterday reviewed progress and agreed on next steps for laboratories from Member States in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC) towards achieving OPCW Designated Laboratory status.
The workshop is part of the project launched in 2019 and funded from the voluntary contribution of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Programme and Policy Manager at the British Embassy in The Hague, Mr Robin Mendham, stated: “The UK has been pleased to support the project to enhance laboratories’ capabilities for the last two years, and welcomes this online workshop as a means to discuss progress made so far, and future plans.”
Mr Sergey Zinoviev, a Senior Programme Officer from OPCW’s International Cooperation Branch, underlined: “Despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the project has demonstrably improved the participating laboratories’ analytical skills. The activities introduced in this phase, such as e-learning and on-line coaching, are reinforcing this progress and should be maintained in future project phases.”
The project supports laboratories from African and GRULAC Member States that aspire to pass the stringent proficiency tests required to become OPCW Designated Laboratories. To advance their capabilities, candidate institutes partner with Designated Laboratories from other Member States for a range of training and mentoring activities.
The workshop attendees evaluated their experiences from 2020-2021, discussed further training needs and agreed on the 2021-2022 workplan.
Eighteen analytical chemists participated in the event, representing the following eight OPCW Member States: Brazil, Chile, Finland, Germany, Kenya, Nigeria, Spain, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The workshop was also attended by four observers from Brazil’s National Authority as well as experts from the OPCW Technical Secretariat.
The workshop was part of the project ‘Assessing and Enhancing the Capacity of Analytical Laboratories from African and GRULAC Member States to Achieve OPCW Designation’. Launched in 2019 and funded from the voluntary contribution of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the initiative identifies labs wishing to obtain OPCW designation and helps them to enhance analytical capacities.
Africa and GRULAC are the only two OPCW regions that currently do not host Designated Laboratories.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Designated Laboratories are a linchpin of the Organisation’s verification regime and its capacity to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons.
OPCW Designated Laboratories must be able to perform off-site analysis of chemical samples collected by OPCW inspectors from chemical production facilities, storage depots and other installations, or from the site of an alleged use 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.