OPCW Scientific Advisory Board Drafts Science and Technology Report to Fourth Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention

Friday, 20 October 2017

OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü (centre) and members of the Scientific Advisory Baord

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 20 October 2017 — The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) met for its Twenty-Sixth Session to provide its advice on developments in science and technology for the Fourth Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

Opening the session, OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, stated that “States Parties require practical advice on how to consider the implications of technological change,” and emphasised that “the findings and advice of the SAB may challenge assumptions and spark new ideas that benefit all". He encouraged the SAB to be forward thinking, innovative and bold as it drafted its report to the Fourth Review Conference

The SAB’s Chair, Dr Christopher Timperley, and its Vice-Chair, Mr Cheng Tang, reflected on the need for scientific literacy in the implementation of the CWC. They commented that "the SAB continues to provide objective and independent technical guidance, ensuring the ability of the OPCW to keep pace with rapid technological change".

To provide this guidance, the SAB members drew upon the outcomes of their on-going scientific review conference that included four topical workshops held in 2016 and 2017, where nearly 160 experts from 40 of the OPCW’s States Parties updated SAB members on trends across relevant scientific fields.

During the session, the SAB received briefings from members of the Technical Secretariat staff on topics that included the Fact-Finding Mission in Syria, the Open-Ended Working Group on Future Priorities, chemical security and the Sub-Working Group on Non-State Actors, knowledge management, findings from a workshop on chlorine, inspector training and preparedness to address new challenges, and improved on-site sampling and analysis.

The SAB continued its review of multidisciplinary scientific advancements to inform its report. Advances of interest included those related to wearable sensors and the decontamination of toxic chemicals.

These topics were addressed by guest speakers Professor Joseph Wang from the University of California San Diego, and Dr Matteo Guidotti from the Italian Institute of Molecular Science and Technologies.

The SAB also discussed recent engagement with forensic science experts to help inform the first meeting of its temporary working group on investigative science and technology, scheduled for February 2018.

On the margins of the meeting, the SAB Chair and Vice-Chair briefed representatives of OPCW Member States on its current and future work programme.

The SAB welcomed three new members: Ms Hoe Chee Chua of Singapore, Dr Khaldoun Bachari of Algeria, and Dr Maciej Śliwakowski of Poland. The Board also said farewell to Dr Augustin Baulig of France, Professor Roberto Martinez-Álvarez of Spain, Dr Koji Takeuchi of Japan, and Professor Ferrucio Trifiró of Italy, whose terms of office on the SAB will come to the close before the next Session of the Board.  

The report of the Twenty-Sixth Session of the SAB will be released in several weeks and the SAB will hold its next meeting in May of 2018.

The Scientific Advisory Board is comprised of 25 independent experts from OPCW Member States, and advises the OPCW Director-General on scientific and technological issues relevant to the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 – with its 192 States Parties – it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction. 

Over 96 per cent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor States have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace.

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