OPCW Founding Celebrated with First OPCW Day Conference: Chemical Safety and Security in a Technologically Evolving World

2 May 2016
Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü (center), keynote speakers and speakers at the opening ceremonies of OPCW Day on 2 May 2016

Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü (center), keynote speakers and speakers at the opening ceremonies of OPCW Day on 2 May 2016

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) celebrated its nineteenth anniversary today, by commemorating for the first time, the International Day for the Foundation of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW Day. The centrepiece of the celebration is the conference, Chemical Safety and Security in a Technologically Evolving World, taking place at OPCW Headquarters in The Hague from today until mid-day Wednesday, 4 May.

The Director-General of the OPCW, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, opened the conference declaring, “Now more than at any other time in our existence, one thing is clear: our future successes will be very different from those of our past. Going forward, we will be called on to do more than just destroy chemical weapons. We must prevent such weapons from ever again re-emerging in any form.” He expressed his hope that the exchanges among participants, which include over 200 experts, officials, practitioners, scientists, educators and students, “form the basis of future collaborations that will help us meet new and emerging challenges with imagination and vigour.”

Also highlighting the importance of working together to tackle future challenges, the Secretary General of the United Nations, H.E. Ban Ki-moon, commended the OPCW, through a special message of appreciation, “. . . For its tireless efforts to foster international cooperation both for disarmament and in facilitating the use of chemistry for the betterment of humanity. Science and technology continue to evolve rapidly. Identifying future challenges and opportunities for chemical disarmament must be a priority.”

Opening ceremony and keynote speakers included political and intellectual luminaries such as H.E Eduardo Ibarrola Nicolin, Chairperson of the Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention; H.E. Renee Jones-Bos, Secretary-General, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands; H. E. Jozias van Aartsen, Mayor of The Hague; H.E. Carlos Foradori, Vice-Minister, Ministry of Foreign Relations and Worship, Argentina; Dr Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization; Prof Vernon Gibson, Chief Science Advisor to the UK Ministry of Defense; and Prof Martin Karplus from Harvard University, 2013 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.

From today until Wednesday, 4 May, participants will explore what technological innovation, and chemical safety and security issues mean for the vision and objectives of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Three thematic tracks are offered including: chemical safety and security, technology foresight, and future scenarios.

OPCW Day includes: an Exhibition featuring companies in the field of CBRNE-related equipment or products, developers of emerging and enabling technologies with chemical applications, and the designated laboratories of the OPCW; an interactive poster contest, photo exhibitions and film projections, including the premiere of the next film in the OPCW’s FIRES film documentary series, COMBUSTION MAN.