Chemistry professionals from four continents expanded their knowledge of analytical methods for scheduled chemicals during a series of online courses conducted by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) between 4 and 15 October.
The training benefitted three groups of chemistry lab professionals: women chemists, experts from facilities supporting customs services, and professionals from laboratories interested in passing the proficiency tests to gain OPCW designated status.
Senior Programme Officer from the OPCW’s International Cooperation Branch, Mr Roman Warchol, stated: “The competencies covered in these trainings are essential for accurate analysis of scheduled chemicals for a number of objectives, including customs control and examination of samples collected by the OPCW. Following on its long-standing commitment, the OPCW also prioritises capacity building activities for women chemists to promote their representation in the field of chemistry.”
The three courses offered an introduction to the OPCW and the Chemical Weapons Convention and provided in-depth information about sample preparation, chemical structure and properties of scheduled chemicals, and the use of the analytical techniques for chemicals relevant to the Convention. The use of the OPCW Central Analytical Database (OCAD)for compound identification was also explained.
The OPCW analytical chemistry courses are designed for chemists from laboratories in OPCW Member States with the aim of building domestic capacity and international cooperation to ensure chemistry is used solely for peaceful purposes.
Forty-five attendees represented the following 26 OPCW Member States: Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Botswana, Cambodia, Chile, Côte d’lvoire, El Salvador, Ghana, Iraq, Kenya, Laos, Mauritius, Morocco, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
The three courses were conducted as part of OPCW’s efforts to support the implementation of Article XI of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Article XI emphasises the right of Member States to engage in development and application of chemistry for purposes not prohibited under the Convention which include industrial, agricultural, research, medical, pharmaceutical, and other peaceful purposes. To meaningfully engage in such activities, it is necessary for laboratory professionals from each Member State to have a sound technical base and analytical capacity.
The Components of an Agreed Framework for the Full Implementation of Article XI were established by the decision of the Conference of States Parties in 2011 (C-16/DEC.10 dated 1 December 2011).
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.