THE HAGUE, Netherlands—12 May 2023— In the presence of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands the new Centre for Chemistry and Technology (ChemTech Centre) of the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was inaugurated in Pijnacker-Nootdorp, Netherlands today.
During the ceremony, His Majesty the King unveiled a plaque to mark the official inauguration of the Centre and was given a guided tour of the facilities.
“The ChemTech Centre is a success of multilateral diplomacy and a tangible symbol of what the international community can achieve together for the benefit of global peace and security. It is a privilege and honour that the Centre is being inaugurated in the presence of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands,” the Director-General said in his opening remarks. “I thank the 57 donor countries, and other donors, including the European Union and the members of the “Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction” for their strong political and financial support to make this Centre a reality. We will leave a special legacy to future generations in the common interest of peace and security.”
Speaking on behalf of the OPCW’s host country, H.E. Mr Paul Huijts, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, stated: “It is a great honour to participate in the inauguration ceremony of the ChemTech Centre. As Host Nation to and Member State of the OPCW, the Netherlands is strongly committed to upholding the global norm against the use of chemical weapons. It is our firm belief that all Member States will benefit from the new and exciting opportunities the ChemTech Centre has to offer and that it will greatly contribute to further bolster its international role, particularly in disarmament, verification and cooperation.”
The ChemTech Centre is an important upgrade to the OPCW’s capabilities to adapt to the evolving global security landscape and assisting Member States in upholding the global norm against chemical weapons. It will ensure that the Organisation remains able to address threats and opportunities arising from rapid progress in science and technology.
The Centre also provides a platform to better coordinate efforts between scientists, academia, civil society, industry, and relevant international organisations. Activities at the Centre underpin the role of the Organisation as the world’s leading repository of chemical weapons related expertise and knowledge, addressing chemical threats worldwide.
The ChemTech Centre is located in Pijnacker-Nootdorp, 12 km from OPCW Headquarters in The Hague. The floor size of the facility is 5,700m². It houses the OPCW Laboratory, a Technology and Training Hub, an instruction space, and advanced training facilities for OPCW staff and capacity building activities for experts from Member States
“As mayor I am very proud that the OPCW – an internationally important and prestigious organisation – chose the municipality of Pijnacker-Nootdorp as location for their ChemTech Centre,” said H.E. Mr Björn Lugthart, Mayor of Pijnacker-Nootdorp.
The ceremony was attended by high-level dignitaries, including H.E. Ms Bonnie Jenkins, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security of the United States of America; H.E. Baroness Goldie, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; and H.E. Ms Yuumi Yoshikawa, Parliamentary Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan. Ambassadors and other high-level officials were also present at the event.
The Centre is a major investment funded entirely through voluntary contributions from 57 countries, the European Union and other donors totalling more than €34M. Construction of the Centre began in June 2021 and the facility was officially accepted by the OPCW on 27 January 2023.
The ChemTech Centre will enhance the OPCW’s ability to conduct chemical research and analysis. This will significantly reinforce its verification regime and inspection capabilities of chemical industries around the world. In addition, an increasing number of capacity development activities will be delivered through the Centre, including chemical emergency response trainings and analytical skills development courses for experts from Member States.
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.