THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 4 December 2018 — The Netherlands and South Africa signed a Letter of Intent to launch a project where the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) will support the South African Department of Defence’s Protechnik Laboratory’s bid for designated lab status from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
On 30 November, the Letter was signed by both the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the OPCW, H.E. Ambassador Paul van den Ijssel, and the Permanent Representative of South Africa to the OPCW, H.E. Ambassador Vusi Bruce Koloane.
OPCW’s Director-General, H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, congratulated the two partners on their forthcoming Memorandum of Understanding that will set up the collaboration to assist Protechnik in passing the competitive OPCW Proficiency Tests and achieving OPCW designation status.
“Collaborative capacity building efforts such as this one are essential to expanding the geographical reach of the OPCW designated laboratories network and strengthening the analytical capabilities of Member States,” stressed the Director-General.
The twinning project, financially supported by the governments of the Netherlands and South Africa, offers a structured plan of training and mentorship by TNO experts.
TNO has been a designated OPCW laboratory since the Organisation’s establishment, while Protechnik was designated between 2005 and 2007. The South African laboratory is also an active participant in OPCW capacity building activities for the analysis of chemical agents relevant to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
OPCW’s Laboratory Twinning Initiative was launched in 2016 in response to a growing demand from Member States with laboratories interested in improving their performance in the OPCW Proficiency Tests and achieving OPCW designated status.
The Initiative assists the technical competence of laboratories in OPCW Member States whose economies are either developing or in transition.
The programme facilitates partnerships and cooperation between aspiring labs and more advanced institutions that possess, or formerly possessed, OPCW designated status and wish to share their experience and offer support.
The Assisting Laboratories are expected to provide assistance useful for participation in OPCW Proficiency Tests and analysis of chemicals relevant to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The partnering institutions are also encouraged to promote international cooperation beyond the scope of the Twinning Initiative in the areas of the peaceful applications of chemistry.