THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 24 September 2019 — The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, delivered a keynote address about international efforts to eliminate chemical weapons and the need for a robust culture of security and deterrence at the 13th CBRNe Protection Symposium held in Malmö, Sweden on 24 September.
In his keynote address, Director-General Arias expressed the need to be agile and vigilant in the face of new technologies and emerging challenges that could threaten the global norm against chemical weapons.
He underscored how “dealing with new uncertainties, challenges, and risks must take centre-stage” and that we should look to our collective experience and knowledge gained from years of implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to inform our responses to current and future scenarios. The Director-General further emphasised, “The need for international cooperation and coordination has never been greater,” and he stated that “complacency cannot be an option.”
Other aspects covered during Director-General Arias’ address included OPCW’s progress and achievements, and the construction of the new OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology (“ChemTech Centre”) to strengthen the Organisations’ capabilities to fully address new and emerging chemical weapons threats, as well as to support capacity building in OPCW Member States.
The CBRNe Protection Symposium, formerly known as the CBW Protection Symposium, is organised by the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI). The Symposium aims to engage with professionals in the area of CBRNe-protection and provide a platform for discussion on protection against radiological, nuclear, and explosive warfare agents as well as chemical and biological warfare agents.
The associated Exhibition also offers an opportunity for symposium participants to acquaint themselves with commercially available state-of-the-art equipment related to CBRNe protection.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Members, 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.