THE HAGUE, Netherlands—21 December 2022—The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Defence Science and Technology Organization of Pakistan (DESTO) co-organised a training course for first responders from all five OPCW regions. The course was held at the Regional Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) Assistance and Protection Centre in Islamabad, Pakistan, from 7 to 11 November 2022.
The objective of the course was to enhance the chemical emergency management capabilities under the national protective programmes of the OPCW Member States. Experts from DESTO and OPCW provided first responders with theoretical knowledge and practical activities covering hazards posed by chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals, use of detection, identification and protection equipment, evacuation and management of casualties, use of antidotes, demarcation of contaminated areas, sampling procedures, decontamination techniques and procedures, and a comprehensive field exercise covering all the procedural details involved in an emergency response.
In his opening remarks Mr Syed Hasnain Haider, Director, Chemical and Biological Defence Directorate, highlighted the importance of the course and suggested to take it to the next level of assistance and protection through exchange of related equipment and peaceful technologies.
He stated: “Pakistan remains fully committed to cooperating with the OPCW and to assist the States Parties to enhance the knowledge, skills and capacity of their emergency responders. We wish to convey our special and sincere gratitude to the OPCW for its consistent support for assistance and protection activities, as well as to the States Parties for their kind cooperation.”
The course was conducted under Article X of the Chemical Weapons Convention (Assistance and Protection Against Chemical Weapons) as a final part of the annual international and subregional training cycles, which were preceded by the basic training courses held earlier in 2022 in Germany and Bangladesh.
At the end of the course, Mr Muhammad Kamran Akhtar, Additional Secretary, CWC National Authority, addressed the formal closing ceremony and thanked the OPCW for trusting Pakistan’s institutions to hold this international course for the 10th time.
The training was attended by 19 representatives from 11 OPCW Member States: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Germany, Kenya, Nigeria, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe. It was financially supported by Germany.
Under Article X of the CWC, Member States “have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, material and scientific and technological information concerning means of protection against chemical weapons.”
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.