First Responders from Latin America and the Caribbean Enhance Skills in Responding to Chemical Attacks and Incidents

5 June 2020
CINQUI chemist conducts a virtual demonstration during an online assistance and protection course for first responders from Latin America and the Caribbean

THE HAGUE, Netherlands 5 June 2020 As a part of the ongoing efforts carried out by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on its International Cooperation Programme activities, the first online OPCW regional basic course on responding to chemical attacks and incidents involving toxic chemicals for Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC) was held from 1 to 5 June 2020.

Jointly developed by the OPCW and the Centre for Chemical Information of Peru (CINQUI), the course provided the participants with lectures delivered by OPCW experts and by a regional team of instructors from Colombia, Peru and Uruguay, as well as comprehensive basic knowledge on all matters related to responding to chemical incidents.

In his opening remarks, Shawn DeCaluwe, Head of the OPCW’s Assistance and Protection Branch stated: “The Organisation is confronted by the circumstances imposed by COVID-19 and as part of this effort, the OPCW is forging ahead to find new ways to deliver capacity building support to its Member States.”

Commander José Zea, Director of CINQUI, reaffirmed the commitment of CINQUI to continue to collaborate with the OPCW in delivering new specialised training to the GRULAC region and other geographical regions as required. 

Twenty-seven first responders representing thirteen OPCW Member States participated in the training: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

Background

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.

Article X of the Chemicals Weapons Convention requires the Secretariat to make information available and provide advice to States Parties concerning means of protection and the implementation of protection programmes. It does this through a data-bank of information and through courses and workshops on protection and civil defence.

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