THE HAGUE, Netherlands–26 November 2020–The Government of the United States of America has awarded a $7,000,000 grant to a special Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Trust Fund to support the project of the construction of a new facility, the OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology (“ChemTech Centre”).
The grant was formalised during a ceremony between the Permanent Representative of the United States to the OPCW, H.E. Ambassador Joseph Manso, and OPCW Director-General, H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, which was held yesterday at OPCW Headquarters in The Hague.
Ambassador Manso stated: “The United States is proud to finalise its contribution to the ChemTech Centre today. The Centre will strengthen the Organisation’s ability to address new and evolving threats, and to continue its professional and impartial work to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria and around the world. Through its expanded facilities and training programmes, the Centre will also enhance the Organisation’s capacity building programmes. Combined, these will ensure the Organisation remains fit-for-purpose for years to come.”
While expressing his gratitude, Director-General Arias observed: “The OPCW greatly appreciates the United States’ generous support that will allow us to advance towards the completion of this keystone project that will keep the Organisation at the cutting-edge of science and technology to achieve and maintain a world free of the scourge 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 International Cooperation and Assistance capacity building activities. He highlighted that “all contributions, regardless of size, are greatly appreciated”.
So far, 45 countries, the European Union, and three other donors have contributed or pledged to contribute financially to the ChemTech Centre project, and a considerable amount has been raised to date.
The project is partially sponsored by the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program of the United States Department of Defense. The content of the information in this article does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the Federal Government of the United States, and no official endorsement should be inferred.
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. Construction of the ChemTech Centre is scheduled to begin in 2021 and the building is currently planned to be operational by the end of 2022.
To date, the following 44 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, Lithuania, 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, Israel (a signatory state) and other donors have also contributed.
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.