Scientific Advisory Board Develops Recommendations for Fourth Review Conference

27 March 2018
Participants at the OPCW's 27th Scientific Advisory Board (SAB)

Participants at the OPCW’s 27th Scientific Advisory Board (SAB)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 26 March 2018 — The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) adopted a report on developments in science and technology for the Fourth Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) during its meeting at OPCW Headquarters in The Hague from 19-23 March.

OPCW’s Deputy Director-General, Ambassador Hamid Ali Rao, opened the Twenty-Seventh Session of the SAB, by underlining the importance of the report. He emphasised its role in bringing “valuable insight into advances unforeseen even just a few years ago” and his belief that “it will compel us to think critically and serve as a clarion call for an ever-greater degree of scientific literacy amongst our decision makers”. 

During the session, Technical Secretariat staff briefings helped the SAB further contextualise recommendations related to verification activities, inspections and contingency operations, and science monitoring. 

Presentations from guest scientists provided further insights on technological change to be included in the report. These speakers included: Dr Albert Swiston of the MIT Lincoln Laboratory and Dr Franz Worek of the Bundeswehr Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, who spoke on pre-symptomatic early warning of pathogen exposure and the detection of chemicals using biosensors, respectively; and Drs Bonnie Wintle and Christian Boehm of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge, who presented their work on horizon scanning of emerging biotechnologies.

Mr Cheng Teng, Vice Chair of the SAB, H.E. Mr Ahmet Üzümcü, OPCW Director-General, and, Dr. Christopher Timperley, Chairperson of the SAB.

Mr Cheng Teng, Vice Chair of the SAB, H.E. Mr Ahmet Üzümcü, OPCW Director-General, and, Dr. Christopher Timperley, Chairperson of the SAB.

The SAB also met with OPCW’s Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, and thanked him for his inspirational leadership and role in promoting international diplomacy and international science in the service of peace. Reflecting on the work of the Board, the Director-General thanked the members for the SAB’s valuable independent science advice, noting that the Board “serves as both a model of scientist-policymaker engagement and science diplomacy”.

During the week-long meeting, the Board visited OPCW’s Laboratory and Equipment Store, and noted that the plans to upgrade the Laboratory to a Centre for Chemistry and Technology would augment OPCW’s capabilities to support international cooperation and science for peace.

The SAB welcomed four new members: Professor Syeda Sultana Razia (Bangladesh), Professor Vladimir Dimitrov (Bulgaria); Dr Yasuo Seto (Japan) and Dr Daan Noort (Netherlands). This is the first Session of the SAB where scientists from Bangladesh, Bulgaria and the Netherlands have served as members of the Board. The Board also said farewell to Professor Mohammad Abdollahi (Islamic Republic of Iran), Professor David Gonzalez (Uruguay), Dr Christopher Timperley (United Kingdom) and Mr Francois Mauritz van Straten (South Africa) whose terms of office on the SAB will come to the close before the next Session of the Board. 

The reports of the Twenty-Seventh Session of the SAB and the Board Report to the Fourth Review Conference will be released in several weeks. The SAB will hold its next meeting in June 2019.

Background

The Scientific Advisory Board is comprised of 25 independent experts from OPCW Member States, and advises the OPCW Director-General on scientific and technological issues relevant to the implementation of the Chemical Weapons 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. 

Over 96 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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