THE HAGUE, Netherlands – 22 August 2019 – First responders from Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC) enhanced their knowledge and skills at the First Regional Training Course in sampling and analysis in contaminated environments run by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in Bogota, Colombia, from 12 – 16 August.
In his opening remarks, Coordinator of Disarmament of the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Alvaro Gómez Ocampo, underscored Colombia’s readiness to continue supporting OPCW regional capacity building programmes.
Acting Director of the International Cooperation and Assistance Division at the OPCW, Mr Shawn DeCaluwe, thanked Colombia for its high quality training offered to Member States from the GRULAC region.
The course provided theoretical and practical training on sampling of chemical substances in different complex scenarios – skills crucial for obtaining and preserving evidence during events involving chemical warfare agents and/or toxic industrial chemicals.
26 course participants represented the following 14 OPCW Member States: Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Saint Lucia.
The training course was organised by the OPCW in close cooperation with the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol (DIJIN) of the Colombian National Police, and with PONALSAR, the Colombian Police´s specialised emergency and disaster response unit. The Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in the United States of America supported the course through the Instructor Development and Exchange Program administered by the OPCW Assistance and Protection Branch.
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.