OPCW Director-General delivers keynote address at Asser Institute WMD training programme

Director-General’s speech to early and mid-career professionals, including from civil society, focussed on the need to take a collective and collaborative approach to facing WMD challenges

28 September 2021

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 28 September 2021 — The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, yesterday delivered the keynote address at the opening of the OPCW and Asser Institute’s Twelfth Annual Training Programme on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in The Hague.

The course takes place from 27 September to 1 October and provides early to mid-career professionals with a comprehensive overview of the diplomatic, legal, and technical aspects of disarmament and non-proliferation across nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and threats.

In his speech, Director-General Arias outlined the current situation of the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime and noted: “Chemical disarmament represents a well-recognised international success to eradicate the world’s deadliest weapons. The story of the OPCW and its activities to fulfil its mandate provides an example of how an organisation can adapt within an evolving global environment.”

The Director-General appealed to the participants: “I hope you, as the next generation of arms control and disarmament practitioners, take the opportunity of this course to sharpen your thinking and deepen your knowledge in this field. It will empower you to participate in better tackling these challenges through collective and collaborative approaches.”

The week-long interdisciplinary training programme will be delivered by an international group of distinguished academics and practitioners from the OPCW, the Biological Weapons Convention Implementation Support Unit, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, and the International Atomic Energy Agency. OPCW specialists will elaborate on achievements and challenges in the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the impact of scientific and technological developments on biological and chemical disarmament, the OPCW inspection and verification regime, the growing threat of chemical terrorism, and the Technical Secretariat’s work related to the use or threat of use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic.

Virtual visits to the OPCW Laboratory and Equipment Store and to the nuclear research reactor at Delft University of Technology will offer participants insights into chemical and nuclear preparedness and demonstrate how WMD treaties are implemented in practice.

As part of its non-governmental sector capacity building support, the OPCW, with the assistance from the European Union funds, provided scholarships to 12 outstanding civil society candidates.


The Asser Institute and the OPCW launched the Programme on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in 2010. The programme has established itself as a highly regarded educational resource for professionals with interests in WMD diplomacy and treaty implementation. The programme continually evolves and focuses on addressing cross-cutting themes in high-level panels and interactive elements such as debates and field visits.

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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