THE HAGUE, Netherlands —13 October 2021— Representatives of 10 Member States of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) from Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC) discussed the integration of learning modules related to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) into customs training curricula. The workshop, organised by the OPCW with the support of the World Customs Organisation (WCO), was held online on 12 October.
The Head of OPCW’s Implementation Support Branch, Ms Beatrix Lahoupe, remarked: “Customs are a key player in monitoring and controlling the chemical trade, and thereby in global non-proliferation efforts. Customs officers work to ensure that no scheduled chemical is illegally imported or exported. Therefore, they must be equipped with specific knowledge and skills for enforcing control over the trade in chemicals.”
One of the participants, the Head of the Chemical Weapons Convention Section of Chile’s General Directorate of National Mobilisation, Ms Alejandra Teneo Tapia, noted: “We, as the CWC National Authority, have a leading role in the coordination of all national stakeholders for effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. In cooperation with the Customs Training Center, we developed online modules on CWC issues for customs officers. The introductory online customs module was piloted in 2020 and benefited more than 200 participants. In early 2022, we plan to develop the second online module on the identification of scheduled chemicals”.
During the workshop, representatives of customs institutions and National Authorities shared experiences in organising national training courses for customs on chemical trade control, and discussed progress, good practices and possible solutions to remaining challenges. Experts from the OPCW and the WCO provided an overview of tools and materials that facilitate and support customs training.
In the context of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, workshop participants recognised the growing importance of e-learning and blended learning that combines virtual and physical training.
The workshop was attended by 24 representatives of 10 OPCW Member States: Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay.
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.