At a ceremony today, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inaugurated a purpose-built training facility at its laboratory in Rijswijk, near The Hague. The facility will allow the OPCW to train experts from laboratories around the world seeking to gain the prestigious OPCW-Designated Laboratory status.
The 21 OPCW-Designated Laboratories play an important role in analysing samples collected in the course of OPCW inspections. Work conducted at six partner laboratories was also instrumental in establishing the conclusions of the United Nations Inspection into Allegations of Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria in 2013.
In opening the facility, the Director-General of the OPCW, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, said, “This new facility is a solid investment in chemistry working for peace. It will significantly enhance the reach and effectiveness of the OPCW’s verification activities, as well as build analytical chemical capability.”
Through courses at its new training facility, the OPCW Laboratory aims to expand its global network of partner laboratories that can perform analysis of samples under the OPCW’s verification regime. Centralising training at the Rijswijk facility allows the OPCW and its Member States to build capacity, as well as develop important peer contacts.
The training programme was successfully launched on 18 May, with the participation in the first session of six laboratory specialists – three from South Africa and three from Brazil. In the week-long course, participants received instruction in the techniques and processes required for passing the stringent OPCW Proficiency Test, which determines whether a laboratory can receive OPCW-designated status.