THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 22 October 2018 — The Government of Belgium has contributed €2 million to a special Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Trust Fund to support the project to upgrade the current OPCW Laboratory and Equipment Store through the construction of a new facility. The new facility will be known as the OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology.
The donation was formalised with an exchange of letters by the OPCW Director-General, H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, and Belgium’s Permanent Representative to the OPCW, H.E. Mr Christian Lepage, at a signing ceremony on 19 October 2018 at the OPCW headquarters in The Hague.
“I would like to express my appreciation to the Government of Belgium on behalf of the OPCW for this generous contribution that will help to ensure that the Organisation remains fit-for-purpose, as well as for Belgium’s longstanding collaboration with the OPCW in upholding the global ban on chemical weapons,” the Director-General said.
“This project, which serves the goal of eliminating all chemical weapons, is an important priority to Belgium. As the country where the first mass chemical gas attack took place during the First World War, we are highly mindful of the human consequences of the use of chemical weapons,” expressed H.E. Mr Christian Lepage.
The OPCW Laboratory and Equipment Store are central to the effectiveness and integrity of the verification regime of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and they also contribute to the OPCW’s capacity building and international cooperation activities. However, the current facility will soon no longer be fit-for-purpose due to ageing infrastructure, space constraints, larger workloads, and new missions with new areas of work.
A new facility is required to meet the demands of OPCW Member States for increased verification and capacity-building activities, and for the OPCW to keep pace with developments in science and technology and new chemical weapons threats. The OPCW Technical Secretariat is developing a detailed project plan for the construction of the Centre for Chemistry and Technology, and a Trust Fund for voluntary contributions has been established to secure the required resources for the project.
The Director-General concluded with an appeal to all OPCW Member States in a position to make voluntary contributions to do so. He reiterated that “All contributions, regardless of size, are greatly appreciated”.
The project to build an OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology is on-going and seeks to strengthen the OPCW’s science and technology capabilities to fully address the real threat of chemical weapons, as well as to support capacity building in OPCW Member States.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Member States, oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
Over 96% 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 Peace Prize.