THE HAGUE, Netherlands —14 December 2018 —The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, and the Mayor of Pijnacker-Nootdorp, H.E. Ms Francisca Ravestein, signed an agreement today to provide land for the construction of a new OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology. The signing ceremony took place at OPCW Headquarters in The Hague.
The Director-General expressed: “This is an essential contribution and crucial step for the construction of the Centre for Chemistry and Technology, which will be a recognised leader in research, analysis, training and capacity building in the global effort to rid the world of chemical weapons.”
The Mayor of Pijnacker-Nootdorp remarked: “Signing this agreement today means a lot to our municipality. We are proud that such an important international organisation as the OPCW has chosen business park Heron in Nootdorp to build their new laboratory. We are looking forward to working together on this project.”
On 21 November, during the Fourth Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H.E. Mr Stef Blok, pledged “€2.3 million to the OPCW for the purchase of land” for the new Centre.
The Director-General thanked the Netherlands for its contribution and concluded with an appeal to all OPCW Member States in a position to make voluntary contributions to do so. He reiterated: “We are seeking the broad support for the project to upgrade the Laboratory and Equipment Store into a Centre for Chemistry and Technology, as it will be for the benefit of all States Parties. All contributions, regardless of size, are greatly appreciated”.
The ceremony was attended by a number of officials including: the Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the OPCW and the Chairperson of the Executive Council, H. E. Ambassador Jana Reinišová; the Permanent Representative of Canada to the OPCW and co-coordinator of the Friends of the Laboratory Group, H.E. Ambassador Sabine Nölke; the Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the OPCW, co-coordinator of the Friends of the Laboratory Group, and Vice-Chair of the Conference of the States Parties, H.E. Ambassador I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja; the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the OPCW, H.E. Ambassador Paul van den Ijssel; and the Alderman of Pijnacker-Nootdorp, Ms Ilona Jense.
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 and assistance activities.
A new facility is required to meet the demands of OPCW Member States for enhanced and increased verification and capacity-building activities to respond to emerging chemical weapons threats and to support States Parties’ activities in chemistry that are not prohibited by the Chemical Weapons Convention. 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.
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.
Other contributors to this project so far include Belgium, Canada, Poland and the Republic of Korea.
The OPCW Laboratory and Equipment Store, currently located in Rijswijk, employs a permanent workforce of around 20 people, comprising scientists, technicians, logistic and equipment experts, and support staff. The Laboratory conducts sampling and analysis to gather evidence about the presence or absence of chemicals relevant to the Chemical Weapons Convention. At the OPCW Equipment Store, the Organisation keeps and maintains all equipment used in inspection missions.
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.