THE HAGUE, Netherlands—28 November 2023—Thirty-one chemists and chemical engineers from 31 countries with developing or transitioning economies participated in this year’s 24th Associates Programme — a flagship programme of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) supporting countries in the national implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
In his closing remarks, the OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Fernando Arias, congratulated the participants and stated: “Two decades after its launch, the Associate Programme is still delivering on its promise of promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of chemistry.”
“During the programme, you have learnt about the Convention and the role of the OPCW in supporting its implementation. You have also seen how modern chemical industries work and what is required to ensure efficiency while maintaining high safety standards,” he added. “Responsible science must be a key message that we convey to future generations of scientists, and we hope you will be passionate advocates of this throughout your careers.”
The Associates Programme combines theoretical and practical segments, with a focus on chemical safety and security management, as well as chemical industry and business operations. Part of the training takes place at the OPCW offices and the OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology, while other segments are delivered at universities and chemical industry facilities around the world. For the first time ever this year, a portion of the industry segment of the programme was hosted in an African country – South Africa-, by Sasol, a renowned chemical company.
“We have been privileged to contribute to various projects and initiatives during our time as associates. The hands-on training and knowledge gained through these activities have provided us with the necessary tools to become ambassadors for chemical disarmament in our respective nations and for an effective implementation of the Convention,” said John Vidaurre, Associates Programme participant from Costa Rica.
Hiyas Junio, Associated Programme participant from the Philippines stated: “Tomorrow, we will return to our respective countries with our heads filled with new knowledge, our spirits strengthened by our experiences and memories made with friends, and our hearts overflowing with gratitude for the OPCW, and all the people who are now part of our life history.”
The OPCW Associates Programme is designed to enhance participants knowledge of the Chemical Weapons Convention and to develop the skills necessary to operate in a modern chemistry environment. The course prepares participants for technical assignments within the OPCW Technical Secretariat and positions related to the implementation of the Convention in their home countries. The programme is conducted annually over nine weeks and is comprised of practical and theoretical modules.
Main objectives of the programme are:
- to facilitate national implementation of the Convention related to the chemical industry;
- to offer training in areas related to chemistry and chemical engineering to personnel from industry, universities, and the government;
- to facilitate trade in these areas through adoption of good practices in chemical industry;
- to broaden the talent pool for positions related to industry in National Authorities, institutions, and economic positions in Member States as well as in the Secretariat.
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.
- Photos from the Event
- Associate Programme | OPCW
- Capacity Building | OPCW
- National Implementation | OPCW