THE HAGUE, Netherlands – 9 October 2017 – The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) held an international workshop on trends in chemical production in Zagreb, Croatia from 3-5 October.
The workshop was jointly organised by the OPCW and the Institute of Medical Research and Occupational Health in Zagreb, with funding from the European Union. It was organised under the auspices of the Croatian President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović; the Croatian Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts; and the City of Zagreb.
Mr Mario Antonić, State Secretary of the Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts, reaffirmed in his opening remarks Croatia’s commitment to the norms of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and expressed his support for the work of the SAB, stating that “achievements in the field of chemistry should be exclusively used to the benefit of humans in a manner not forbidden by the Convention, by means of promoting free trade in chemical products as well as through international cooperation and exchange of scientific information”.
The SAB Chairperson, Dr Christopher Timperley, highlighted the importance of the workshop in bringing together experts whose work encompasses the science and technology of chemical production, noting that, ‘’the knowledge gained is an asset in implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention, and will help prevent the re-emergence of chemical weapons.”
The workshop reviewed current and future trends in the discovery and production of commodity, platform, fine and speciality chemicals, pharmaceuticals and biologicals; developments in science and technology in support of chemical discovery and manufacturing; and the driving forces shaping these trends.
OPCW’s Science Policy Advisor and Secretary to the SAB, Dr Jonathan Forman explained that “The science of chemistry has experienced continual change throughout its history . . . central to chemistry is the ability to discover and produce new chemicals, whether for the generation of new knowledge or for socio-economic pursuits. This demands that our scientific review process not only consider new developments, but also understand how the world beyond the lab influences their direction”.
Participants engaged with OPCW experts who shared expertise on industry inspections and CWC policy. The workshop concluded with an interactive session that focused on the impact of technological change on the Convention and its verification regime. This included a briefing on the results of a recent survey on bio-mediated chemical production conducted by OPCW’s Industry Verification Branch.
The workshop was attended by 37 participants from 17 countries, including scientists, engineers and CWC stakeholders from several Croatian Ministries.
The workshop is the fourth and final in a series of workshops funded by the European Union that seek to inform the SAB’s report on developments in science and technology for the upcoming Fourth Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention in December 2018.
The Scientific Advisory Board gathers twenty-five independent experts from the OPCW Member States. It advises the OPCW Director-General on science and technology issues relevant to the implementation of the CWC, including investigations of alleged use.
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.
Over ninety-six 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.