THE HAGUE, Netherlands—18 September 2020—The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the World Customs Organisation (WCO) jointly organised an online training course on the enforcement of the Chemical Weapons Convention’s (CWC) scheduled chemicals transfer regime from 25 August to 18 September. The online training involved over 100 customs officers from 38 OPCW Member States.
Pavlo Byalyk, Senior Programme Officer, Acting Head of Implementation Support Branch, noted in his address to participants: “Customs officers play a key role in controlling the import and export of toxic chemicals. Their role is crucial for ensuring such chemicals are used for exclusively peaceful purposes. Careful oversight of the trade in chemicals is particularly important in reducing the threat of chemical terrorism.”
The objective of the course was to strengthen the capacity of OPCW Member States to implement the CWC’s provisions related to the transfer of scheduled chemicals. Customs officers were provided with an in-depth understanding of the relevant provisions, the tools to identify toxic chemicals, and approaches to handling suspicious chemical shipments. Through ten e-learning modules from the WCO training platform, the course also covered procedures for reporting the import and export of scheduled chemicals as well as practical advice on implementing those procedures. The customs officers took part in a scenario-based exercise as well as live sessions during which international experts provided additional technical guidance and answered detailed questions.
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 98% of all declared chemical weapon stockpiles have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.