Chemical and Allied Industries’ Association hosts celebration of South Africa’s 20 year membership of the Chemical Weapons Convention
The Chemical and Allied Industries’ Association (CAIA) celebrated 20 years of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) during its Transportation of Dangerous Goods Seminar in Johannesburg.
“The CWC was successfully implemented in South Africa 20 years ago, and our Transportation of Dangerous Good Seminar was the perfect occasion to celebrate this achievement,” says Deidré Penfold, Executive Director of CAIA.
Dr. Ben Steyn, of the South African Council for the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, said in his opening address over the past 20 years, the Convention, through its implementing body, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), had been successful in working towards achieving its mandate.
The South African Council for the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction is South Africa’s National Authority in terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
“The OPCW has much to be proud of, having recorded a remarkable achievement of eliminating approximately 96% of the declared chemical weapons stockpile, in keeping with its goal to end the development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of chemical weapons, and to eliminate existing stocks of such weapons in order to ensure a world free of chemical weapons,” Steyn said.
“South Africa is pleased to join the international community in commemorating the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction. The Convention entered into force in 1997, and currently has 192 States Parties, which is near universal adherence, with only 4 countries remaining outside the Convention. This is the most successful disarmament treaty in existence, eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction,” he said.
The international community benefits from the OPCW’s consistent application of the provisions of the Convention to all member states, and the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize is a testament to this organization’s commitment to world peace and security.
South Africa became a State Party to the Convention in 1997 and has remained committed to fulfilling its obligations under the Convention. As a State Party that does not possess chemical weapons, our non-proliferation efforts have been focused on ensuring compliance with the provisions of the convention and achieving other objectives such as promoting international cooperation and building capacity with regard to related issues. In this regard, South Africa has successfully hosted the Assistance and Protection Course for African States Parties to the Convention since 2005 with the aim of capacitating first responders with the necessary skills and expertise to be able to respond to chemical incidents. In addition, Analytical Skills Development Courses have been hosted since 2009 to assist scientists from Africa to develop capacity to analyse toxic chemicals.
Steyn said South Africa’s industry and academics have also benefitted over the years from the many capacity building programmes of the OPCW, which facilitated the convening of scientific conferences and assisted researchers in the development of scientific and technical knowledge in the field of chemistry.
The OPCW can be assured of South Africa’s continued support, cooperation and commitment to ensuring a safe and peaceful future in accordance with the vision of the Convention. Together, through continued collaboration, coordination and capacity building efforts, we can achieve and sustain the global vision where there is responsible use of chemicals and the peaceful application of advancements in science and technology to attain a world free of weapons of mass destruction, Steyn added.
Ferdi Visser of Armscor, said Protechnik Laboratories, the multi-disciplinary laboratory facility in the Armscor stable that maintains defensive capability against chemical and biological warfare agents for SANDF (SAMHS), supports the South African Non Proliferation Council in the implementation and furthering of the objectives of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and interacts with the international Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) with regard to non-proliferation of chemical weapons.