THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 2 October 2019 — The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, delivered the keynote address at the opening of the OPCW and Asser Institute’s Tenth Annual Training Programme on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in The Hague.
The training course, taking place from 30 September to 4 October, provides early to mid-career professionals with a comprehensive overview of the legal, scientific, diplomatic, and geo-political issues involved in WMD non-proliferation and disarmament efforts.
In his keynote speech, OPCW Director-General Arias encouraged participants to embrace new perspectives and emerging technologies when addressing the challenges faced by the international community:
“The challenges that confront policy-makers, professionals, experts, and academics related to weapons of mass destruction are not new, but certainly require novel thinking and agility in action.”
After describing the OPCW’s activities to promote peaceful chemistry and achieve the total and permanent elimination of all chemical weapons, the Director-General reminded participants of the importance of “diplomacy, globally shared values, cooperation above competition, and respect for the rule of law,” to achieve continuous progress.
The keynote speech was followed by an interactive and insightful question and answer session during which the Director-General shared further views with the participants on these themes.
The week-long training programme will be delivered by experienced internationally renowned experts in the fields of diplomacy, international law, security, and related disciplines. OPCW specialists will elaborate on challenges related to the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW inspection and verification regime, the role of science in disarmament, and the growing threat of chemical terrorism.
Interactive exercises and field visits to the OPCW Laboratory in Rijswijk and to the nuclear research reactor at Delft University of Technology will offer participants insights into chemical, biological, and nuclear preparedness and demonstrate how WMD treaties are implemented.
The Asser Institute and the OPCW launched the Programme on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation of WMDs in 2010 and is now in its tenth year.
The programme has established itself as a highly regarded educational resource for early to mid-career professionals with interests in WMD diplomacy and treaty implementation. The WMD training programme continually evolves and focuses on addressing cross-cutting themes in high-level panels and interactive elements such as debates and field visits.
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.