Singapore hosts Chemical Weapons Convention training for Asian National Authorities

Singapore Customs, together with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, successfully organised the Advanced Training Course for National Authorities involved in the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention in Asia. It was held from 1 to 4 June 2010 at the Traders Hotel in Singapore, and was attended by 23 participants from 21 Asian countries.

The Advanced Training Course conducted by officials from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in Singapore from 1-4 June 2010 was attended by representatives from 21 National Authorities.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), an international treaty which prohibits the development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of chemical weapons, and also stipulates their timely destruction.  The OPCW is charged with monitoring the implementation status of its member states, conducting on-site verifications and providing a forum for consultation and cooperation among its member states. As Singapore’s National Authority for the CWC, Customs serves as the liaison point with the OPCW and other member states for CWC matters.

The Advanced Training Course for National Authorities is the first of its kind to be conducted on a regional basis. In his opening remarks, Mr Mark Albon, Head of the Implementation Support Branch from the OPCW, cited the opportune timing for organising such a course as there has been “marked improvement in the number of National Authorities being established and also the qualitative improvement in the work the National Authorities are undertaking at the national level for the effective implementation of the CWC”.

Ensuring legitimate use of chemicals
Discussion among the participants during the declaration exercise
The focus of the four-day course was on Article VI of the CWC covering the industry verification regime, which aims to ensure that toxic chemicals and their precursors are only developed, produced, transferred and used for peaceful purposes.

The participants engaged in lively discussions on various issues relating to the comprehensive regime for routine monitoring of the chemical industry through declarations and on-site inspections. They were presented with different tools to assist them in the collection of relevant data at a national level, and given training in the proper preparation of declarations, which the respective National Authorities are required to submit to the OPCW.

Participants being briefed at the GlaxoSmithKline plant during the mock OPCW inspection segment.
To supplement the theory lessons, the participants also went through a detailed preparatory session devoted to the conduct of OPCW inspections, and received practical training through a mock inspection conducted at the facilities of pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline to better understand the aims of such inspections.

The course received positive feedback from all participants, who found the sharing of information and open discussions to be highly valuable.  The participants also took the opportunity to foster closer relationships with the OPCW and their counterparts from the other National Authorities.

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