Adapting to Current and Future Challenges: OPCW Feature Article
In 1997 the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was established as its implementing body. The Chemical Weapons Convention is an ambitious treaty which bans completely an entire category of weapons of mass destruction.
With 193 States Parties, the Chemical Weapons Convention provides protection to 98% of the global population and contributes to international peace and security. Its sound and robust verification system provides confidence that States Parties are in compliance with the Convention. Each State Party has committed to apply the Convention in their territories through national implementing legislation.
Chemical demilitarisation, together with industry inspections and international cooperation, has been one of the core activities of the OPCW since its creation. To date the OPCW has verified the destruction of over 98% of all declared chemical weapons. The Global Partnership against Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction has supported, financially and in kind, the destruction process in the Russian Federation, the elimination of declared stockpiles in the Syrian Arab Republic, and has also provided cooperation to remove chemical weapons precursors in the Republic of Libya.
As the international security environment evolves, the OPCW is adapting to be able to respond to current and future challenges. The destruction phase is coming to an end with the completion of the destruction of all declared chemical weapons in 2023. The increasing focus on preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons, whether from State or non-State actors, necessitates the development of current and new capabilities to ensure the OPCW remains fit for purpose.
To this end, the OPCW is creating a new Centre for Chemistry and Technology (ChemTech Centre). The ChemTech Centre will benefit all States Parties through international cooperation projects and capacity-building programmes. Its state-of-the-art laboratory will increase the analytical capabilities of the OPCW. Not least, the Centre will provide training for OPCW Secretariat staff.
This project has been made possible thanks to the financial support of, so far, 45 countries. Among the donors, the contribution by the Global Partnership has been significant: the voluntary contributions of many GP countries but also by the European Union, which is a partner of the GP, represent 98% of the total contributions to date. As the project continues to move forward, more countries are expected to pledge their financial support. The total budget of the project is 33.5 million euros, of which 33.3 million euros have been raised so far.
The OPCW appreciates the generous support by the Global Partnership members and wishes to thank all donors for their commitment to this project.
The laboratory, training, offices and equipment store are organised in a simple fold around the building’s heart. The double height Equipment store is positioned in front of the double high indoor training area. Together they form a clear building structure on the westside of the plot that facilitates flexibility. On the Southeast the laboratory area is positioned next to equipment store on the ground floor. The offices and training labs on the first floor are positioned next to the central heart.
Location of the laboratory facility plays a key role in the OPCW’s tasks. The location of the laboratory programme in relation to the equipment store is an important choice in the layout and workflow of the building. The requirements for the proximity to the warehouse and central facilities along with safety, routing and load-bearing capacity requirements make the ground floor the preferred location compared to an elevated location. The support area between the equipment store and the laboratory can facilitate all necessary central facilities, relations, safety measures and protocols.
The ChemTech Centre will enable the OPCW to remain fit-for-purpose in the fulfilment of its mandate.