OPCW trains law enforcement officials in chemical emergency management and response

Training strengthens skills of law enforcement professionals in chemical emergency management and response

23 September 2023

THE HAGUE, Netherlands—23 September 2023—Law enforcement professionals are required to assist in investigations related to incidents or attacks involving toxic chemicals. To do this, they need to know how to manage a complex chemical emergency environment, including how to collect, photograph and analyse samples and evidence from the scene.

To help build capacity among law enforcement first responders, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Italian National Authority’s Technical Operational Unit for the implementation of the Chemical Weapon Convention (CWC), with contributions from France, co-organised the third yearly iteration of training for law enforcement professionals for French speaking Africa.

During an online course from 2 to 29 August and an in-person training from 11 to 22 September in the Netherlands, participants learnt how to collect different types of samples from the scene of a chemical incident as well as how to photograph evidence. In addition, the course covered basic principles of the chain of custody, reporting and cataloguing procedures as procedures of personal safety and decontamination.

Mrs Kazumi Ikeda-Larhed, the Head of International Cooperation and Assistance at the OPCW emphasised: “Training law enforcement ensures that all State Parties have the capabilities required to respond to a chemical weapons attack. It represents a sustained effort to ensure interest in the Convention among current and future first responders. Such a culture of awareness and experience on chemical weapons incidents ensures that when the worst happens, they can respond effectively, saving lives.”

Participants also had the chance to exchange know-how and best practices with each other, as well as with experts from the OPCW Technical Secretariat and the Italian National Authority regarding incident response and the implementation of Article X of the CWC.

The online modules and the in-person workshop scenarios were attended by 10 professionals from 6 States Parties: Belgium, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mauritania, and Morocco.


Article X of the Convention provides for assistance and protection to a State Party if it is attacked or threatened with attack by chemical weapons. The Secretariat organises trainings for first responders, government experts and emergency response units designed to build and develop national and regional capabilities and emergency response systems against the use, or threat of use, of 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.

On 7 July 2023, the OPCW verified that all chemical weapons stockpiles declared by the 193 States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention since 1997 — totalling 72,304 metric tonnes of chemical agents — have been irreversibly destroyed under the OPCW’s strict verification regime.

For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

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