Benefits of joining the Chemical Weapons Convention

1. The Chemical Weapons Convention stipulates in paragraph 2 of Article XI that States Parties "undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of chemicals, equipment and scientific and technical information relating to the development and application of chemistry for purposes not prohibited under [the] Convention". This provision creates the foundations for OPCW's work in the area of international cooperation.

2. The OPCW has established a number of projects and programmes in the field of international cooperation already. These can be grouped into three main areas:

(a) assistance in the development of the scientific and technical infrastructure in Member States particularly in areas related to the Convention's implementation,

(b) capacity building for peaceful uses of chemistry, and

(c) support for National Authorities in implementing the Convention.

3. Effective and sustainable infrastructure building is an important aspect, not just of the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, but also of other regulatory instruments in the field of the sound management of chemicals. In the context of the Convention, two areas of science and technology are of particular relevance: destruction of toxic chemicals, and chemical analysis. Although only six OPCW Member States are involved in the destruction of CW stocks, many other Member States are at present addressing the issue of how to deal with old and abandoned chemical weapons, or with other toxic wastes. The OPCW supports technical workshops on destruction technologies. In the area of chemical analysis, the Secretariat is taking an integrated approach towards assisting Member States in the development of their technical capabilities. This concept recognises that only very few countries can afford to develop and maintain highly specialised laboratories that deal with CW agents but many Member States need to be able to conduct other types of chemical analysis for regulatory, environmental and occupational safety reasons, including in respect to the chemicals contained in the three Schedules of the Convention (many of which are constituents of such products as dyes, inks, detergents, toiletries, surfactants, pesticide preparations and other commodities, and require analysis for a variety of regulatory reasons such as product licensing, chemical safety audits or import controls). The OPCW offers at present: technical audits of existing national laboratories to assist in defining future requirements in particular in relation to the setting-up of quality assurance systems; financing of scientific exchanges and internships for scientists from laboratories in developing countries and countries with economies in transition at advanced laboratories abroad; attendance of scientists from such laboratories at international conferences and symposia and the conduct of scientific symposia (on a regional or global basis) at such laboratories.

4. In the area of peaceful applications of chemistry, the OPCW Secretariat financially supports scientific exchanges and the attendance of scientists and engineers from developing countries and countries in transition to important international scientific symposia; it assists in exchanges of scientific equipment between laboratories from Member States including in respect to shipments and any necessary start-up training; it operates a free information service for institutions in Member States in respect to properties and uses of scheduled chemicals; and it financially supports small-scale research projects on relevant subjects including environmental aspects of toxic chemicals, chemical analysis and detoxification. Funding is either direct by OPCW, or jointly together with such partners as the Stockholm based International Science Foundation.

5. The OPCW conducts the Associate Programme for chemists and chemical engineers from developing countries and countries in transition. The programme familiarises the participants with the work of the OPCW and the requirements for the implementation of the Convention in chemical industry, and provides extensive opportunities to become familiar with modern safety, production and management practices in the chemical industry. Participants undergo intensive training at OPCW headquarters as well as a university facility in the United Kingdom, and spend time working with chemical companies in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe where they are exposed to modern industrial practices. They prepare research projects and participate in workshops on scientific and technical issues, and visit a variety of institutions, companies and governmental agencies. Their broadened experience and their exposure to modern industrial practices will benefit their countries, whether in relation to the companies or institutions they return to or in relation to the national implementation of the CWC, as well as of regulations in the field of chemical safety at large. The additional insight and experience that the participants gain during the programme may also help them take up a technical position in an international environment such as the OPCW or within the National Authority department of their own country. In the future, this OPCW programme will further expand and may be conducted in other regions of the world.

6. Support for National Authorities is an activity of the Secretariat not directly related to the implementation of Article XI. This programme reflects the necessity to build national capacities for the effective implementation of the provisions of the Convention. At the same time, however, such implementation support has a positive spin-off in other fields. It can help pursuing integrated solutions in such areas as legislation, infrastructure building, administration, information systems and databases. In this way, the programme enhances national capabilities that are important not only for the CWC, but also for environmental regulations (for example, the Rotterdam Convention on prior informed consent, the Basel Convention on transboundary movements of hazardous wastes, the Convention on persistent organic pollutants, and the Montreal Protocol) and other regulations in the field of the sound management of chemicals. The OPCW support programme for National Authorities includes training of personnel, the organisation of exchanges and workshops between National Authorities to share their experience and discuss common issues, on-site assistance in areas such as declarations or legislation, and the development of implementation tools such as software or information packages. Many activities are tailored to the needs of individual States Parties or (sub) regions. Participation of a number of representatives from developing countries is sponsored by the OPCW.