Representatives of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) Member States from Africa examined and discussed legislative and regulatory issues of chemical security during an online course held from 19 to 22 April.
Experts from the OPCW Technical Secretariat presented the Organisation’s activities to assist Member States in strengthening their legal regimes on chemical security. The course demonstrated how implementing legislation on the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) reinforces chemical security, notably through the prohibition and penalisation of illicit activities involving chemical weapons, and the establishment of a control regime for scheduled chemicals and related facilities.
The Head of OPCW’s Implementation Support Branch, Ms Beatrix Lahoupe, stated: “Responding to a strong interest from Member States from Africa, the OPCW plans to expand its training portfolio on legal and regulatory aspects of chemical security. Our aim is to offer stronger support that will allow Member States to address domestic legislative issues and enhance their national chemical security.”
The participants examined the international legal framework on chemical security and discussed good practices in developing national legislation. They gained insight into how initiatives from the chemical industry and distributors could advance chemical security.
Attendees noted the growing risk of misuse of chemicals as trade and industry continue to expand across Africa. To counter this, the participants recognised the need for Member States to identify and address gaps in their legal frameworks on chemical security, with OPCW capacity building support.
The course gathered 49 representatives of chemical industry, regulatory agencies, and legal officers from a range of ministries involved in CWC implementation from 12 Member States in Africa: Angola, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. The following organisations provided experts: International Council of Chemical Associations, International Chemical Trade Association, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and INTERPOL.
OPCW’s Implementation Support Branch runs a range of programmes aimed at supporting States Parties in national implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, including in the development and adoption of implementing legislation. They include awareness raising and capacity building activities, such as National Legislative Review Forums and legal workshops.
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.