THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 20 November 2019 — The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) held its first advanced proficiency test training for two Member States from the Africa region, at the OPCW Laboratory in Rijswijk, Netherlands, from 11 to 15 November 2019.
The training’s participants from Nigeria and Uganda increased their knowledge and skills on the key provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the OPCW’s mission and activities, with special focus on verification.
The practical segment included training in Gas Chromatography (GC) and Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) for the analysis of chemicals relevant to the Convention. Sample preparation and the application of the OPCW Central Analytical Database (OCAD) in compound identification were also covered.
OPCW International Cooperation Branch, Senior Programme Officer Dr Rohan Perera underlined in his remarks that, “the OPCW attaches great importance to building the analytical chemistry capacity among Member States from Africa, which serves the wider goal of promoting peaceful uses of chemistry and prevent potential misuse of toxic chemicals”.
The course was part of the OPCW Programme to Strengthen Cooperation with Africa.
The OPCW designated laboratories are a linchpin of the Organisation’s verification regime and its capacity to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons. OPCW designated laboratories analyse samples collected during inspection activities. To receive the designation, labs must pass the stringent OPCW proficiency testing programme. There are currently no designated laboratories in the Africa region.
The Programme to Strengthen Cooperation with Africa on the Chemical Weapons Convention focuses on activities and interventions that meet the particular needs of African Member States. One of its objectives is to support African States Parties to strengthen integrated chemicals management, including chemical safety, security and sustainability.
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.