THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 27 June 2019 — African chemical industry and lab professionals built capability for better national framework implementation to manage chemical safety and security risks, during a workshop by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) held in Algiers, Algeria, held from 23 – 25 June.
The Director of Financial Services of Algeria’s Ministry of National Defence, Major General Ferhah Mehena, highlighted the prominent role of his country in the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC): “Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, Algeria has always adhered to its provisions and advocated for the promotion and strengthening of Africa’s position in the Organisation.”
OPCW’s Senior Programme Officer, Mr Rohan Perera, stressed in his opening remarks that the advancement of chemical safety and security is one of OPCW’s priorities and that the Organisation’s Member States from Africa are keen to enhance their capabilities in this area. “Through meetings such as this, the OPCW provides a platform for the government, industry and other experts to work in synergy and to share their experiences, strategies and approaches for the improvement of chemical safety and security in the entire life cycle of the chemicals,” said Mr Perera.
The workshop focused on developing a national framework to manage chemical safety and security risks in the entire life cycle of highly toxic chemicals, analysing the existing frameworks and identifying the gaps and the status of chemical safety and security implementation in OPCW Member States in Africa.
Participants were also briefed on a variety of safety and security management topics relevant to chemical industries across the continent. They discussed a broad range of issues, such as industry outreach, quantitative chemical safety and security risk assessment for accident prevention and preparedness, scenario-based strategies to identify the safety and security gaps in the existing national framework and to develop layers of protection for the mitigation of chemical threats.
On the third day of the programme, participants visited Hayat Algeria Chemical Factory to learn about the safety and chemical security management protocols in the production of detergents using chemicals scheduled in the CWC.
Twenty-seven attendees represented 10 countries and included government officials overseeing the chemical industry, small- to medium-sized chemical industry professionals, academics and chemists.
The OPCW Chemical Safety and Security Programme was launched in 2009 and has since become a leading forum for the exchange and development of expertise in chemical management.
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 97% 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.