THE HAGUE, Netherlands–4 December 2020–First responders from Latin American and Caribbean (GRULAC) Member States of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) enhanced their capabilities in chemical warfare agent and toxic chemical decontamination procedures during an online basic course held from 30 November to 4 December. The training was conducted by the OPCW and the Special Risks Brigade of the Argentine Federal Police.
The Executive Secretary of the National Authority of Argentina, H.E. Ambassador Gustavo Zlauvinen, stated: “This course shows the Republic of Argentina’s commitment to collaboration with the OPCW, which has been successfully sustained during this difficult year for international cooperation. I reiterate our appreciation for the efforts of the OPCW Technical Secretariat, the firefighters of the Argentine Federal Police, and the participants. We all share the goal of building capacity in chemical emergency response in our countries and across the entire region.”
OPCW’s Special Advisor on Assistance and Protection, Mr Shawn DeCaluwe, remarked: “I welcome the high interest among GRULAC countries to upgrade their national and regional systems of response to chemical weapons and toxic industrial chemicals. Building effective mechanisms and promoting the assistance and protection culture is crucial to achieving the high level of readiness that is essential for saving lives in emergency situations.”
The participants learned how to develop and implement decontamination procedures and techniques for use following incidents involving chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals. The first responders also discussed their experiences of chemical decontamination and were provided with an overview of the Chemical Weapons Convention, focusing on Article X on assistance and protection.
The course was attended by 33 representatives of 12 OPCW Member States: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru.
The National Authority of Argentina and the Argentine Federal Police are OPCW’s long-time partners in the delivery of assistance and protection courses in Latin America and the Caribbean.
This course was the third training of this type in the GRULAC region in 2020, and the first one to focus on decontamination. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, all assistance and protection courses have been held online this year.
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.