Analytical chemists from African Member States of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) advanced their skills in quantitative analysis of chemicals relevant to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) during an online course held from 23 to 25 November. The training was conducted by the OPCW and Protechnik Laboratories from South Africa.
Acting Senior Manager of Protechnik Laboratories, Dr Nomandla Vela, stressed in her opening remarks the lab’s agility in supporting capacity building initiatives despite the challenges posed by COVID-19: “The pandemic has given us an opportunity to test our capability to share skills and documents through different technology platforms.”
OPCW’s Senior International Cooperation Officer stated: “The theoretical and practical skills and techniques obtained during this training will allow the participants to play key roles in developing national and international capacities in chemical analysis and facilitate the adoption of good laboratory practices.”
The course focused on gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS) techniques in chemical analysis. These methods help identify the presence of different substances in a sample through vaporisation and measurement of the mass-to-charge ratio of ions. Aspects of sample preparation, quantification, and compound identification were also covered. The attendees were briefed on the OPCW’s activities in the area of chemical analysis and the CWC’s verification provisions.
The online training will be followed by a practical exercise session at Protechnik Laboratories in 2022.
Attendees included 17 representatives of industry, academia, and government laboratories of the following OPCW Member States: Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d’lvoire, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
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 has been the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapon 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.