Switzerland Contributes CHF 300,000 to Support OPCW Activities and Centre for Chemistry and Technology

22 January 2020
OPCW Director-General, H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, and the Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the OPCW, H.E. Ambassador Heinz Walker-Nederkoorn

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – 22 January 2020 – The Government of Switzerland will make two contributions totalling CHF 300,000 to support a number of major projects and activities of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

A contribution of CHF 200,000 will be made to the OPCW Trust Fund to support the project to upgrade the current OPCW Laboratory and Equipment Store through the construction of a new Centre for Chemistry and Technology (“ChemTech Centre”). Another contribution of approximately CHF 100,000 will support the activities of the Trust Fund for Syria Missions at the OPCW. The Trust Fund for Syria Missions supports the Organisation’s missions and contingency operations related to the Syrian Arab Republic including the work of the Declaration Assessment Team (DAT), the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), and the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT).

The contribution was formalised during a ceremony at the OPCW Headquarters between OPCW Director-General, H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, and the Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the OPCW, H.E. Ambassador Heinz Walker-Nederkoorn.

OPCW Director-General, H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, and the Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the OPCW, H.E. Ambassador Heinz Walker-Nederkoorn

The Director-General expressed: “I thank the Government of Switzerland for these major contributions, to the new OPCW ChemTech Centre and to the Trust Fund for Syria Missions. Both will further build the capabilities of our Member States to achieve a world free of chemical weapons.”

Ambassador Walker-Nederkoorn remarked: “The OPCW has proven time and again its indispensable value when it comes to building a world free of chemical weapons and ensuring respect for the provisions established by the Chemical Weapons Convention.”

He emphasised Switzerland’s full support for the OPCW’s professional and impartial work to eliminate the threat posed by chemical weapons, reflected in both contributions.

He added: ‘’The OPCW Laboratory performs key functions and is of pivotal importance for the effectiveness and integrity of the Organisation’s verification regime.”

So far, thirty-three States Parties and the European Union have contributed or pledged to contribute financially to the ChemTech Centre project, and a considerable amount has been raised to date. In the past few weeks, as many as eleven States Parties have made a voluntary contribution.

Background

The project to build the ChemTech Centre is on-going and seeks to strengthen the OPCW’s capabilities to fully address new and emerging chemical weapons threats, as well as to support capacity building in OPCW Member States. The current OPCW Laboratory and Equipment Store are central 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 activities. However, the current facility will soon no longer be fit-for-purpose due to its ageing infrastructure, space constraints, larger workloads, and new missions with new areas of work.

A new facility is required to meet the demands of OPCW States Parties for enhanced verification tools, improved detection capabilities and response measures, as well as increased 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 OPCW Technical Secretariat is developing a detailed project plan for the construction of the ChemTech Centre, and a Trust Fund for voluntary contributions has been established to secure the required resources for the project.

To date, the following States Parties have contributed or pledged to contribute to the project: Algeria, Andorra, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America. The European Union has also contributed.  

The Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) is mandated to identify the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic. The IIT was launched following a decision adopted by the Conference of the States Parties to the CWC at its Fourth Special Session held in June 2018. The OPCW Fact Finding Mission was set up in 2014 in response to persistent allegations of chemical weapon attacks in Syria, with the task to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes. Established in the same year, the Declaration Assessment Team engages the relevant Syrian authorities to resolve the identified gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies in the Syrian declaration.

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.

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