THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 21 November 2018 – First responders from eight States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) expanded their emergency response and protection capabilities against chemical warfare agents during the 8th International Advanced Course on Assistance and Protection against Chemical Weapons, held in Islamabad, Pakistan from 12 – 16 November.
Dr Nabeel Hayat Malik, Chairman of the National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM) noted in his speech, “We underline the willingness of Pakistan to continue offering these international courses as a contribution to the implementation of Article X of the Chemical Weapons Convention”.
Senior Programme Officer from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Mr Justo Quintero Mendez, emphasised that the Organisation, through such capacity building activities, works to strengthen the capacity of its Member States to offer its citizens protection in case of chemical emergencies. “We encourage all attendees to pass on their knowledge onto colleagues and in this way augment the effect of the instruction received here,” he stressed.
During the training, the 28 participants covered the following topics: the use of protective equipment; monitoring, detection and decontamination operations in contaminated areas; and response to incidents involving chemical weapons; and, toxic industrial chemicals both during and after the event. During a simulation exercise, the attendees also tested their ability to respond to a chemical incident in a contaminated area.
The training was co-organised by the OPCW, the Pakistani Government’s Defence, Science and Technology Organisation (DESTO), and the Chem-Bio Defence Directorate on behalf of the National Authority of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Representatives of the following OPCW Member States attended the training: Bangladesh, Belize, Republic of Korea, Maldives, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama and Sri Lanka.
The 8th International Advanced Course on Assistance and Protection against Chemical Weapons was the second stage of the capacity building cycle run by the OPCW.
The first part was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in March 2018, and introduced the participants to the best practices in chemical response. The final part of the training will take place in 2019.
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.