The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) organised a training to raise awareness about the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) among the next generation of professionals in the fields of science and chemistry. The initiative is supported by the European Union and was launched yesterday by OPCW Deputy Director-General, H.E. Ambassador Odette Melono, and Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the OPCW, H.E. Ambassador Mika-Markus Leinonen.
By targeting university students and young academics and researchers in chemistry, chemical engineering, and other chemical-related scientific fields around the world, the training builds support for upholding the global norm against chemical weapons among the next generation. It focused on the role of chemical safety and security management in ensuring the peaceful use of chemicals. It also provided an opportunity for participants to liaise, network, and build professional relationships for their future careers in chemistry and disarmament.
In her welcoming statement Ambassador Melono stated: “We live in a time when the ever-accelerating pace of science and technology is ushering in unprecedented opportunities for global peace and development. Young people are at the forefront of this movement. By broader engagement on the implementation of the Convention with all key stakeholders, including youth, we can greatly contribute towards preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons.”
Ambassador Mika-Markus Leinonen remarked: “It is important to keep in mind the critical role of youth in realisation of the objectives and purpose of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), especially in strengthening the global disarmament and peace efforts as ‘agents of change’. In other words, investing in youth is investing for a better tomorrow. The European Union is delighted to associate itself and support this programme, together with OPCW.”
Experts from the OPCW Technical Secretariat introduced the Convention and provided an overview on the provisions of Article XI (Economic and Technological Development), which underpin the OPCW’s international cooperation and capacity building efforts. The training touched upon the educational and ethical issues faced by chemists as well as ongoing efforts to prevent the abuse of dual-use chemicals.
The event also featured a presentation by the Kenyan National Disaster Management Unit about their experiences encouraging and promoting the engagement of youth in the implementation of the Convention.
The training was attended by 47 participants from 18 OPCW Member States: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Morocco, Nepal, Romania, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom.
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 99% 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.