Deputy Director-General Opens First Advanced Regional Assistance and Protection Course on Chemical Emergency Response for GRULAC States Parties

19 April 2012
Deputy Director-General Mrs Grace Asirwatham

Deputy Director-General Mrs Grace Asirwatham

The OPCW Deputy Director-General, Mrs Grace Asirwatham, delivered the opening address to the first “Advanced Regional Assistance-and-Protection Course on Chemical Emergency Response” for States Parties in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is being held from 16-20 April 2012 in Buenos Aires. The course was co-organised by the Government of Argentina and the OPCW and has drawn 24 specialised participants from 18 States Parties in the region. A full description of the course objectives and content can be viewed here.

In her remarks [PDF – 64 KB], the Deputy Director-General recalled that States Parties have repeatedly stressed the importance of the OPCW’s maintaining a high level of readiness to provide timely assistance and protection in emergency situations, as well as to conduct investigations in cases where use of chemical weapons is suspected. She further recalled that 77 States Parties have pledged different forms of assistance to the OPCW under Article X of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), including more than € 1.4 million in contributions to the Voluntary Fund for Assistance.

The Deputy Director-General highlighted the criticality of a quick and efficient response to counter the impact of an attack with chemical weapons or toxic chemicals. With this in mind, she said the OPCW has developed the concept of CWC Assistance and Protection Centres for training and preparing trainers within a region, and to improve regional cooperation and national protective capacity. Mrs Asirwatham added that the OPCW is currently developing an e-learning training project to help the Secretariat provide theoretical training on protection against chemical weapons to broader audiences and to improve the quality of practical training for trainers.

While in Buenos Aires the Deputy Director-General also held meetings with senior Argentinian officials, including the Undersecretary for Foreign Policy, Ambassador María del Cármen Squeff, and members of the CWC National Authority Directorate. She also met with Ingeniero Eduardo Fabre, President of the Centre for Scientific and Technological Research for Defence.