The emergency response and protection capabilities of 18 States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention received a substantial boost, as a new cluster of first responders wrapped up training at the 6th International Advanced Course on Assistance and Protection against Chemical Weapons, held in Islamabad, Pakistan from 14 – 18 November 2016.
This advanced training was the second stage of a two-part capacity building course, run by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) over the course of the year. While the first part of the course, held in Ankara, Turkey in June 2016, aimed at providing participants with chemical response best practices, last week’s advanced course honed both their practical and theoretical capabilities.
The 24 participants who successfully completed this course will now join the ever growing group of trained professionals who are enhancing the safety and security of their perspective countries.
“The value of this training cannot be underestimated as it broadens the pool of experts in emergency response and protective programmes. Populations of many countries are now more secure, having a set of highly-trained professionals capable of dealing swiftly and dexterously with the consequences of chemical incidents,” emphasised OPCW Director of International Cooperation and Assistance Division, Mr Hamza Khelif, at the conclusion of the training.
Areas addressed during the training included: the use of protective equipment; monitoring, detection and decontamination operations in contaminated areas; and response to incidents involving chemical weapons and toxic industrial chemicals both during and after the event. These skills were refined during a field exercise that simulated circumstances surrounding a contaminated area and tested participants’ ability to launch an effective response operation.
The training was co-organised by the OPCW, the Pakistani Government’s Defence, Science and Technology Organisation, and the Chem-Bio Defence Directorate.
Representatives of the following States Parties attended the training: DR Congo, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Lesotho, Maldives, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Romania, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Turkey and Uganda.
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, 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.