THE HAGUE, Netherlands–15 November 2021–First Responders from Member States of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) from Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC) enhanced their capabilities in chemical warfare agent and toxic chemical decontamination procedures during an online basic course held from 8 to 12 November. The training was conducted with the technical support of the Special Risks Brigade of the Argentine Federal Police.
The Sub-Inspector of the Argentine Federal Police, Ms Marisol de la Peña, stated: “Every year, OPCW allows us to challenge ourselves to seek new tools that will provide us with the knowledge and strategies to successfully manage incidents involving toxic industrial chemicals and chemical warfare agents. Our mission as trainers is to transmit that knowledge to the entire GRULAC community. Constant learning is the best tool to improve our response capacity.”
The Senior Programme Officer from OPCW’s Assistance and Protection Branch remarked: “Decontamination operations require expert knowledge on the application of appropriate techniques and methods. Only then will those operations be effective and meet the desired objective. Theoretical knowledge is essential to understanding how the process works. It is also the basis for setting up proper decontamination systems in the field.”
The participants learned how to develop and implement decontamination procedures and techniques used following incidents involving chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals. They also discussed their experiences in chemical decontamination. The First Responders further became familiar with the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention – focusing on Article X on assistance and protection against chemical weapons – the activities of OPCW’s Assistance and Protection Branch and of the Organisation in general.
The course was attended by 55 representatives of the following 10 OPCW Member States: Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
This was the third edition of the basic course on chemical warfare agent and toxic chemical decontamination procedures for OPCW Member States from Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC). The course has also been offered for Member States in Africa.
Overall, this was the twelfth online course for OPCW Member States in GRULAC held since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, organised to support the full and effective implementation of Article X (Assistance and Protection against Chemical Weapons) of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
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.