The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) concluded its week-long session at OPCW Headquarters on 22 April, and offered valuable guidance to help the Organisation employ the newest scientific and technological advances in its activities.
“Your work is only set to increase in importance for how the OPCW addresses new challenges. (…) You represent a wealth of experience and expertise and the OPCW is fortunate in being able to draw on it,” said the OPCW Director-General Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü in his opening remarks of the Twenty-Third Session. He stressed the importance of the SAB’s advice, especially with the OPCW “shifting [its] focus from destruction-related activities to the less visible, more complex task of preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons.”
During the session, the SAB, chaired by Dr Christoper Timperley with vice-chair Mr Cheng Tang, reviewed developments in science and technology relevant to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Experts provided updates on sample analysis methods, and on response and treatment of exposure to chemical agents – both issues of major importance due to ongoing incidents using toxic chemicals in the Middle East. Moreover, SAB presented a comprehensive report on long-term storage and stability of environmental and biomedical samples collected in investigations, including Fact-Finding Missions and the Declarations Assessment Team working in Syria. The SAB also submitted a report to the OPCW Director-General with useful advice about recognising whether certain chemicals fall under one of the three CWC schedules.
Dr Timperley noted that, “The scientific advice provided by the SAB will strengthen verification and help in the identification of chemical weapons use by OPCW Designated Laboratories.”
The SAB and Director-General welcomed six new members to the Board:
- Professor Isel Pascual Alonso (Cuba),
- Dr Christophe Curty (Switzerland),
- Dr Zrinka Kovarik (Croatia),
- Dr Robert Mikulak (United States of America),
- Professor Ponnadurai Ramasami (Mauritius) and
- Ms Farhat Waqar (Pakistan).
The Scientific Advisory Board comprises 25 independent experts from OPCW States Parties, and advises the Director-General on science and technology issues relevant to the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The SAB will hold their next meeting in October 2016.
For more details: Scientific Advisory Board