THE HAGUE, Netherlands—18 December 2020—First responders from Eastern European and Asian Member States of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) participated in a Russian language version of the basic online training course on protection against chemical weapons from 14 to 18 December. The training was organised by the OPCW in partnership with the International Rescue Training Centre (iRT) of the Belarusian Ministry of Emergency Situations’ University of Civil Protection.
Opening the event, OPCW’s Special Advisor on Assistance and Protection, Mr Shawn DeCaluwe, reaffirmed the Organisation’s commitment to assisting Member States in the protection of their populations against chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals. He stressed: “This course, which imparts foundational knowledge about the principles of protection against toxic chemicals, testifies to the great importance the OPCW attaches to regional capacity building under the Chemical Weapons Convention’s Article X on assistance and protection.”
The iRT’s Deputy Director, Mr Vitaly Babych, noted in his closing remarks: “The Centre is proud to have contributed to the development of this course based on OPCW’s recommendations. We ensure that the participants receive the requisite theoretical knowledge through video lectures and live online classes, as well as demonstrate their new skills through testing and practical exercises. Additionally, the course provides ample space for specialists from different countries to exchange experiences.”
The training course covered the conceptual aspects of protection against chemical weapons. Participants gained proficiency in planning and designing responses for protection, detection, rescue and decontamination operations in contaminated areas. In addition, the course allowed for an examination of response tools used during incidents involving chemical warfare agents or toxic industrial chemicals. Attendees also learned about OPCW technical support available to Member States in such emergencies.
Twenty-four course participants represented the following OPCW Member States: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Cambodia, Estonia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
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.