THE HAGUE, Netherlands–12 February 2021–The Advisory Board on Education and Outreach (ABEO) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) identified its strategic objectives for 2021 during an online meeting on 9 and 10 February. The ABEO agreed to focus on enhancing e-learning opportunities, amplifying the impact of capacity building through the future OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology, and raising awareness of the importance of chemical safety and security.
Mandated to provide advice on areas of education and outreach relevant to the OPCW’s objectives, the ABEO convened its tenth session under the leadership of the newly elected Chairperson, Dr Hans-Georg Weinig of Germany, and Vice-Chairperson, Mr Shahab Ud Din of Pakistan.
OPCW Director-General, H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, stressed in his opening remarks that the advice of the ABEO’s Temporary Working Group on e-learning was crucial for the OPCW to reach wider audiences and build capacity within Member States. The Director-General noted: “The current international environment has accelerated the digitalisation of societies and e-learning provides a unique opportunity to spread knowledge and skills across geographical boundaries.”
In addition, Director-General Arias underlined that the future OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology “will greatly support our education and outreach efforts” and will “benefit from the expertise and knowledge of the Board”. He further called for ABEO’s input into raising awareness of chemical safety and security, including their environmental aspects.
During the session, ABEO members discussed and approved their Strategic Plan for 2021, which includes activities pertaining to educational materials about the Chemical Weapons Convention and the OPCW’s work, as well as steps to highlight the ongoing relevance of The Hague Ethical Guidelines, which aim to promote a culture of responsible conduct in chemical sciences and to guard against the misuse of chemistry.
The ABEO noted that seven of its 15 members will have served their second and final term at the end of 2021 and that, exceptionally, the recent call for nominations allows for Member States to put forward two candidates. In the interest of promoting gender balance, the Board also noted that should any Member State wish to make two nominations, one should be a female candidate.
The Advisory Board on Education and Outreach (ABEO) was established in 2015 by the Conference of the States Parties to assist the OPCW and Member States in all aspects of education and outreach relevant to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Board is composed of 15 independent experts in subjects including education, science communication, the chemical industry, dual/multiple-use issues related to chemistry and the life sciences, and ethics and the Chemical Weapons Convention.
In September 2020, the Director-General established a Temporary Working Group (TWG) of the ABEO on e-learning, recognising the importance of enhancing OPCW’s e-learning portfolio for various specialist and non-specialist external audiences. The TWG includes 10 prominent academics with experience and knowledge of e-learning theory and practice. The TWG’s mandate was set for 12 months with a possibility of extension, pending the needs of the Organisation and available funding.
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.
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