THE HAGUE, Netherlands —19 December 2019 —The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, and the Mayor of Pijnacker-Nootdorp, H.E. Mrs Francisca Ravestein, signed the land purchase agreement and the deed of transfer for the plot of land upon which the OPCW will construct its new Centre for Chemistry and Technology (ChemTech Centre). The signing ceremony took place at the City Hall of Pijnacker-Nootdorp.
The ChemTech Centre will be built in the Heron Business Park, an industrial park established by the municipality. Work on the design of the building is scheduled to begin in January 2020, with construction of the building planned to be completed by the end of 2022. The purchase of the plot in Business Park Heron was made possible by a voluntary contribution of €2.3 million to the ChemTech Centre Trust Fund that was provided by the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The €33.5 million project to build the ChemTech Centre seeks to strengthen the OPCW’s scientific and operational capabilities to respond to current and emerging chemical weapons threats, as well as its capabilities to provide capacity building support to OPCW Member States.
OPCW’s Director-General expressed his gratitude to Mayor Ravestein and the Municipality of Pijnacker-Nootdorp for the cooperation, flexibility and support. He also thanked H.E. Ambassador Paul van den Ijssel, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the OPCW and the Government of the Netherlands for the generous funding provided to purchase the land and make the project a reality.
The Director-General remarked: “The ChemTech Centre will play a vital role in allowing the organisation to keep pace with developments in science and technology. It will provide new and expanded facilities to allow us to meet the needs of our States Parties, and thereby contribute to international peace and security.”
The Mayor of Pijnacker-Nootdorp remarked: “Today we reached an important milestone by signing the land purchase agreement for the OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology. This means a lot for our municipality and it will stimulate our local economy. We are proud to welcome the OPCW at Heron Business Park.”
The Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the OPCW, H.E. Ambassador Paul van den Ijssel stated: “The new laboratory is an indispensable part of the future OPCW. Soon, Pijnacker-Nootdorp will be the host of the most successful disarmament organisation in the world.”
The signing ceremony was attended by a number of officials including: Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the OPCW, H.E. Ambassador Paul van den Ijssel; Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to the OPCW and Chairperson of the Chemical Weapon Conventions’ Conference of the States Parties, H.E. Mr Krassimir Kostov; Permanent Representative of Italy to the OPCW and the Chairperson of the OPCW Executive Council, H.E. Ambassador Andrea Perugini; Permanent Representative of Philippines to the OPCW and Regional Coordinator for Asia, H.E. Ambassador Jaime Victor B. Ledda; Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the OPCW and co-coordinator of the Friends of the Laboratory Group, H.E. Ambassador I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja; Permanent Representative of Ukraine and Regional Coordinator for Eastern Europe, H.E. Ambassador Vsevolod Chentsov; Permanent Representative of Finland to the OPCW, H.E. Ambassador Päivi Marjaana Kaukoranta; Permanent Representative of Japan to the OPCW, H.E. Mr Hidehisa Horinouchi; Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the OPCW, Ms Desirée Humphreys; Second Secretary, Permanent Representation of Canada to the OPCW, Ms Andrijana Beslic; EU Liaison Officer, European External Action Service, H.E. Ambassador Mika-Markus Leinonen; and the Alderwomen and Aldermen of Pijnacker-Nootdorp including Ms Ilona Jense-van Haarst, Ms Hanneke van de Gevel, Mr Peter Hannevanger, and Mr Frank van Kuppeveld.
The Centre is essential to the effectiveness and integrity of the verification regime of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and they also contribute to the OPCW’s capacity-building and international cooperation and assistance activities.
A new facility is required to meet the demands of OPCW Member States for enhanced and increased verification and capacity-building activities. The ChemTech Centre will also help the OPCW to keep pace with developments in science and technology and new chemical weapons threats. The current facility will soon no longer be fit-for-purpose due to ageing infrastructure, space constraints, larger workloads, and new missions with new areas of work.
To date, the following States Parties have contributed or pledged to contribute to the project Trust Fund: Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Arab Emirates, and the United States of America. The European Union has also contributed.
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.