THE HAGUE, Netherlands – 13 March 2020 — Yesterday, the Government of the Netherlands announced additional steps for combatting the further spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Effective immediately, the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, has adopted several measures based on the new guidance announced by the Dutch health authorities and the World Health Organisation’s characterisation of the spread of the virus as a pandemic.
These measures pertain to contingency staffing, official travel and meetings. OPCW Member States have been informed of these measures in the context of a dynamic and evolving situation.
The OPCW Technical Secretariat will continue to monitor the situation and take all reasonable measures to protect OPCW personnel, while minimising the impact of the outbreak on the implementation of the OPCW’s activities for 2020. The Secretariat will keep States Parties informed as needed.
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.