THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 24 June 2022 — Emergency response personnel must know how to handle incidents involving chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals. To increase the number of experts able to teach this subject, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the Population Protection Institute of the Czech Republic co-organised an international train-the-trainers course in Láznĕ Bohdaneč, Czech Republic, from 1 to 9 June.
The training directly supports the implementation of Article X of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which covers assistance and protection against chemical weapons.
During opening remarks, Lt. Col. Ladislava Navrátilová, course commander from the Population Protection Institute, stated: “Participants in this course will gain deeper insight into a process of chemical incident response and able to train others in how to manage chemical incidents.”
The Programme Officer from OPCW’s Assistance and Protection Branch coordinating the course, Mr Babatunde Olowookere, noted: “The training-of-trainers ensures the sustainable and efficient use of OPCW resources for capacity building. This course will help build a large base of first responders in the field of assistance and protection against incidents involving chemical warfare agents or toxic industrial chemicals.”
To encourage mutual learning and understanding of chemical emergency response, the training incorporated a variety of training techniques: presentations, demonstrations, table-top exercises, on-site trainings and field exercises. Participants tested each other and performed various command roles to learn strategies that could be later implemented in their respective countries as future instructors.
The training was attended in person by 15 professionals from 12 OPCW Member States: Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Kenya, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
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 99% 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.