OPCW launches chemical safety and security management guidelines

International experts develop recommendations for small and medium-sized enterprises on the management of chemicals for peaceful uses of chemistry

29 June 2021
OPCW launches chemical safety and security management guidelines

THE HAGUE, Netherlands29 June 2021The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), today launched new Guidelines for Chemical Safety and Security for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to Foster the Peaceful Uses of Chemistry.

The Director of OPCW’s International Cooperation and Assistance Division, Ms Kayoko Gotoh, highlighted in her opening remarks at the online launch: “This publication constitutes the first step in crafting non-binding guidelines on chemical safety and security and we will continue to explore the opportunities for similar outcomes for other stakeholders in the future.”

The indicative guidelines provide a global overview of chemical safety and security management for small and medium businesses, relevant for Member States from all five OPCW regions. The document does not set out to cover all the detailed technical elements of chemical safety and security management but rather provides a reference for SMEs implementing chemical safety and security measures.

Following the introduction of the guidelines, experts from Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, the United States of America, as well as from relevant international organisations and chemical industry shared their knowledge and experiences.

The initiative to compile chemical safety and security guidelines for small and medium-sized enterprises was launched in 2019 at the Workshop on Developing Tools for Chemical Safety and Security. The goal of this initiative was to strengthen chemical safety and security best practice in support of peaceful uses of chemistry and international cooperation among OPCW Member States.

The launch event involved 120 participants from the following 39 OPCW Member States: Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Spain, Togo, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, Venezuela, and Zambia.

Representatives of the International Council of Chemical Association (ICCA), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) also attended the launch.

Background

At its Sixteenth Session, the Conference of the States Parties adopted decision C 16/DEC.10 (dated 1 December 2011) on the components of an agreed framework for the full implementation of Article XI of the Chemical Weapons Convention. In accordance with paragraph 2 of that Decision, States Parties and the OPCW Technical Secretariat undertook to “conduct, based on input from National Authorities and relevant stakeholders, a needs assessment on tools and guidance that would be helpful for promoting chemical safety and security”.

Following the Decision, and building on OPCW’s efforts to systematically gather knowledge and best practice through capacity building activities, the Technical Secretariat invited Member States to provide information, on a voluntary basis, about their tools and practices in chemical safety and security management.

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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