THE HAGUE, Netherlands—10 December 2020—First responders from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) Member States in Asia participated in an online basic training course on chemical emergency response from 7 to 10 December. The course was conducted by the OPCW in partnership with the National Authority for the Chemical Weapons Convention of Malaysia (NACWC) and the Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia (FRDM).
OPCW’s Special Advisor on Assistance and Protection, Mr Shawn DeCaluwe, stated: “The OPCW remains committed to assisting its Member States’ efforts to protect their populations by responding in a timely and effective way to incidents involving chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals. We are determined to strike the right balance between online education and practical training necessary to build up preparedness and first response capacities.”
The FRDM Director General, Mr Mohammad Hamdan Wahid, remarked: “This course has offered an opportunity to not only enhance knowledge in responding to chemical emergencies, but also to strengthen our regional network of experts.”
The course bolstered national capacities to respond to incidents involving chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals, and forms part of OPCW’s efforts to implement Article X of the Chemical Weapons Convention on assistance and protection.
Through pre-recorded presentations, demonstration videos, downloadable learning material and live coaching sessions, the participants covered topics such as protection, detection, rescue, decontamination, reconnaissance, and evidence collection in contaminated areas. The participants were also briefed about technical support available from the OPCW.
Fifty-nine participants from the following 12 OPCW Member States attended the course: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, the State of Palestine, and Turkmenistan.
Malaysia has long been an active supporter of OPCW’s assistance and protection regional capacity building programmes. The country hosted several training courses and field exercises in its Fire and Rescue Department training facility.
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.