New First Responders from Latin America and the Caribbean Ready to Deploy as They Finish OPCW Training on Response to Chemical Warfare and Toxic Chemicals

17 November 2016
Participants of the first responders training program in Bogotá

Participants of the first responders training program in Bogotá

A new group of professionals from Latin America and the Caribbean concluded a regional first responders training program by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) last week, strengthening their countries’ response-capabilities to incidents involving chemical warfare and toxic chemicals.

The training was held from 7-11 November in the city of Bogotá, Colombia and constituted the final stage of a series of regional trainings this year.


In his opening speech, Director for Multilateral Affairs at the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Relations, Ambassador Mauricio González, expressed Colombia’s continuing commitment to strengthening cooperation between Colombia and the OPCW: “I want to thank OPCW’s Technical Secretariat for its continued support of States Parties from Latin America and the Caribbean. Programmes such as these have allowed us to enhance our ability to protect our people in the event of exposure to chemical warfare agents and incidents involving toxic industrial chemicals.” 


Head of the National Directorate of Fire-fighters of Colombia, Captain Germán Miranda, also voiced his appreciation for these trainings, stating that: “Our long-standing cooperation with the OPCW has yielded excellent results. Together, we have trained hundreds of first responders from across the region to deal with situations involving chemical weapons and chemical incidents.” 


The newly-trained professionals will join the growing ranks of OPCW-trained first responders who pass on their skills to others in order to contribute to the development of a more robust and effective national chemical response system.


The training was supported by the National Directorate of Firefighters of Colombia, whose capacity-building partnership with the OPCW started in 2005, and was attended by representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.


The Chemical Weapons Convention comprehensively prohibits the use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of chemical weapons. Any chemical used for warfare is considered a chemical weapon by the Convention. 

As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 — with its 192 States Parties — it is the most successful disarmament treaty in existence, eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction. 

To date, nearly 93 per cent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor states have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace.

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