THE HAGUE, Netherlands – 24 April 2020 – The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) issued a video briefing for States Parties today to present the preliminary design of the new Centre for Chemistry and Technology (ChemTech Centre). Due to the circumstances related to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the recorded briefing substituted a traditional briefing that had been planned to occur on this date at OPCW Headquarters.
During this briefing, the Secretariat delivered presentations on the status of the project as well as the layout of the functional areas in the ChemTech Centre: the OPCW Laboratory, the Equipment Store, training and capacity-building facilities, and common areas. The architectural design firm selected to lead the project’s design team, Ector Hoogstad Architecten, presented a general overview of the preliminary design and the applicable zoning and regulatory requirements.
In his opening statement, OPCW Director-General, H.E. Mr Fernando Arias remarked: “The ChemTech Centre will be a place where the Technical Secretariat and States Parties come together to study, learn, train, and work in common purpose toward a more safe, secure, peaceful, and prosperous world. The Secretariat is committed to delivering this facility for States Parties, and to making every effort to do so on-time and on-budget.”
The ChemTech Centre will be built in the Heron Business Park, an industrial park established by the municipality of Pijnacker-Nootdorp, Netherlands. The main focus of the project’s activities in 2020 are design development and the issuance of the construction tender. Construction of the building is currently planned to begin in the second quarter of 2021, and to be completed by the end of 2022.
So far, thirty-nine States Parties, the European Union, and one private individual have made financial contributions or pledges totalling €30.3 million to the project’s trust fund. A further €3.2 million is still required to reach full funding for the project. Contributions or pledges for the remaining funds are required by July 2020 to ensure that the construction tender can be issued on-time and with full funding available.
The project to build the ChemTech Centre 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 States Parties. 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.
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, Angola, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Morocco, 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.
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.