Experts from Latin America and the Caribbean Enhance Skills in Toxic Chemical Response

2 June 2017
Participants at the basic regional course for first responders in Montevideo

Participants at the basic regional course for first responders in Montevideo

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 2 June 2017 — First responders from Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC) enhanced their ability to respond to incidents with chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals (TICs) during a basic regional course for first responders in Montevideo, Uruguay, from 8 to 12 May 2017.

Uruguay’s National Authority led the co-ordination of the programme and supplied army experts in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) defence. Additional training was provided by instructors from Argentina and Peru to enhance the participants’ knowledge of chemical warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals, individual protective equipment, detection and decontamination practices. Under expert guidance, attendees also explored and tested emergency response procedures currently in use in their countries, and discussed possible new methods and approaches.

 

This was the first course in a three-pronged series of trainings this year. These trainings develop and consolidate the protective capabilities of Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Member States in the GRULAC region against chemical weapons and incidents with TICs. After this basic course, participants moved onto the advanced course which took place in Argentina on 15-19 May. The final training features a practical exercise that will be held in Brazil in August.

 

The Minister of National Defence of Uruguay, Mr Jorge Menendez, took this opportunity to highlight the importance of OPCW capacity-building efforts, and he counted such efforts among the Organisation’s top accomplishments over its 20 years of existence. The Minister expressed, “As the Organisation marks two decades since its inception, Uruguay remains firmly committed to upholding the principles of the Chemical Weapons Convention and to contributing to its effective implementation”.

 

The regional training was attended by 27 representatives from 16 States Parties in Latin America and the Caribbean: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

 

The course was co-organised by the OPCW and the National Authority of Uruguay. Instructors from Argentina and Peru participated under the umbrella of the OPCW’s Instructor Development and Exchange Programme.

 

The training builds on a 2006 OPCW-led national training programme in Uruguay. As a result of this training, Uruguayan first responders have continued to strengthen their capabilities and numbers and can now assist the running of capacity building programmes for experts from other countries in Latina America and the Caribbean.

Background

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, nearly 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.

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