The workshop is part of an initiative by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to gather a comprehensive inventory of its Member States’ needs, tools, guidance and best practices, related to chemical safety and security management.
“With the rapid development of the chemical industry in Africa, controlling chemicals is a growing challenge. Gaining this information will help us ensure responsible use of chemicals for all,” emphasised the acting Director of the United Nations at the Ministry of External Relations and acting Head of the Cameroon National Authority, Mrs Elung Ekinde Sylvie, while opening the event.
OPCW’s International Cooperation Officer, Mrs Halimatussaadiah Mat Som, shared her thoughts on chemical safety and security, and the value of an integrated approach to chemical risk management.
Nearly 30 representatives of government agencies, chemical industries, academia and other stakeholders from 16 countries in Africa attended the workshop.
Over the three days, attendees debated and analysed various aspects of chemical safety and security management, including trends and challenges, implementing processes, mitigation measures, and how to build a safety and security culture within the chemical supply chain.
Following the discussions, the participants went on a field visit to Alucam, a local chemical company, where they observed chemical safety and security management measures implemented at the site.
The Yaoundé event is part of a consultation and information-gathering process, following the publication of an OPCW report titled “Needs and Best Practices on Chemical Safety and Security Management” in November 2016. The conclusions from the workshop will be reflected in an addendum to this Report.
Participants of the workshop represented the following states: Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Nigeria, Sao Tomee and Principe, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and United States of America.
At its Sixteenth Session, the Conference of the States Parties adopted a decision (C16/DEC.10, dated 1 December, 2011) tasking the States Parties and OPCW’s Technical Secretariat to “conduct, based on input from National Authorities and relevant stakeholders, a needs assessment on tools and guidance that would be helpful for promoting chemical safety and security.”
Subsequently, the Technical Secretariat invited Member States to provide information about the tools and practices in chemical safety and security management.
The report, released 30 Nov 2016, included the inputs of sixteen Member States: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Chile, Cuba, Germany, Latvia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Peru, Panama, Sri Lanka, Sudan, United Kingdom, United States of America and Yemen.
Subsequently, the Secretariat encouraged more Member States to provide inputs regarding their chemical safety and security management practices and to identify gaps in their capacity to prevent, detect and/or respond to a chemical safety accident or a chemical security incident.
Successive reports will include additional Member States’ responses.
The Technical Secretariat is now engaged in a further consultation and information-gathering process, which started with a workshop held in Riga, Latvia, in December 2016. The Yaoundé workshop is the second in this series.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently and verifiably eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 – and with its 192 States Parties – it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
To date, approximately 95 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.