THE HAGUE, Netherlands – 13 July 2020 – The Government of Finland has made two contributions totalling €200,000 to support a number of major projects and activities of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
A contribution of approximately €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). Another contribution of €100,000 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”).
The contribution was formalised during a ceremony between OPCW Director-General, H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, and the Permanent Representative of Finland, H.E. Ambassador Päivi Marjaana Kaukoranta, which was held at OPCW Headquarters in The Hague.
Ambassador Kaukoranta remarked: “Finland’s contribution to the OPCW Trust Fund for Syria Missions indicates our steadfast support for the professional work of the Technical Secretariat and the Investigation and Identification Team in particular. In order to achieve the aims of the Chemical Weapons Convention, it is essential to maintain and develop the capabilities of the OPCW and the national capacities of the States Parties. For that purpose, we are proud to also contribute to the new OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology.”
The Director-General expressed: “I thank the Government of Finland 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.”
Director-General Arias appealed to all OPCW Member States in a position to make voluntary contributions to do so. He further emphasised the important role the new ChemTech Centre will play in strengthening the OPCW’s ability to address chemical weapon threats and enhance capacity building activities. He highlighted that “all contributions, regardless of size, are greatly appreciated”.
So far, forty-three Member States 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.
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 Member States 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 Member States have contributed or pledged to contribute to the project: Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Australia, 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, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, 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 98% 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.