OPCW and European Union sign MoU to strengthen collaboration

Parties to work within respective areas of competence towards full implementation of Chemical Weapons Convention through mutual respect, understanding, and strategic cooperation

21 February 2024
H.E. Ambassador Mika-Markus Leinonen, European Union Liaison Officer to The Hague, and Ambassador Fernando Arias, OPCW Director-General

H.E. Ambassador Mika-Markus Leinonen, European Union Liaison Officer to The Hague, and Ambassador Fernando Arias, OPCW Director-General

THE HAGUE, Netherlands—21 February 2024— The European Union (EU) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance and strengthen collaboration in common areas of interest in accordance with the OPCW programme and the mandate of the Technical Secretariat.

The MoU aims to operationalise efforts in the field of peace, security and disarmament and to reinforce cooperation between the two sides in order to make the greatest possible joint contributions to the full implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

The MoU was signed by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, H.E. Mr Josep Borrell Fontelles and OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Fernando Arias. The ceremony took place on 20 February at the OPCW’s Headquarters in The Hague, where the European Union was represented by the European Union Liaison Officer to The Hague H.E. Ambassador Mika-Markus Leinonen, accompanied by OPCW Director-General Ambassador Fernando Arias, Deputy Director-General Ambassador Odette Melono and several high ranking officials of the Organisation.

The High Representative said: “The OPCW was founded to put an end to and eliminate chemical weapons once and for all. Last year, it verified the destruction of the world’s last declared chemical weapons stockpile. However, we continue to witness the barbaric consequences of these heinous weapons. We still have work to do. With the signature of this new agreement, we are increasing our cooperation with the OPCW to safeguard and implement the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The objective is clear: a world free from chemical weapons for the sake of all mankind.”

The Director-General remarked: “I express my sincere appreciation to the European Union for its continuous financial and political support to the activities of the OPCW. The present Memorandum of Understanding with the European Union will enable us to take further steps towards a better and more effective implementation of our mandates provided for under the Chemical Weapons Convention and the relevant decisions of the Policy Making Organs of the OPCW.  It also underscores our collective determination to eliminate chemical weapons and prevent their re-emergence in order to achieve our common goal of ridding the world of chemical weapons and advancing peace and global security.”


In 2003, the EU adopted its Strategy against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Strategy is designed to prevent, deter, halt and, where possible, eliminate weapons of mass destruction programmes worldwide. The most recent EU contribution was concluded in July 2023 and provides €5.35 million in voluntary funding over three years. 

The European Union is one of the most active cooperation partners of OPCW in advancing the objective of a chemical weapon free world. It is the largest provider of voluntary contributions to the OPCW, supporting capacity building activities, including assistance and protection, verification missions, OPCW activities in Syria, engagement with civil society, and the Centre for Chemistry and Technology (ChemTech Centre).

The ChemTech Centre, inaugurated in 2023, enhances the OPCW’s ability to conduct chemical research and analysis. This significantly reinforces the Organisation’s verification regime and inspection capabilities of chemical industries around the world. In addition, an increasing number of capacity building activities are being 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.

In 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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