OPCW and WCO help address security challenges of international trade in chemicals

From 25 to 27 May 2021, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in collaboration with the World Customs Organization (WCO), organized an intensive online training course designed to equip customs officers with skills to effectively monitor cross-border movements of dangerous substances. The OPCW is the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997. The Convention is a disarmament treaty established to permanently eliminate chemicals weapons, which can be classified as weapons of mass destruction.

The course was intended to improve the capacities of Member States to enforce the Convention’s transfers regime. A comprehensive approach to the Convention’s procedures and tools for identification of scheduled chemicals, e.g., toxic chemicals and their precursors listed in annexes to the CWC, can play a key role in diminishing discrepancies between the quantities of scheduled chemicals declared by importing and exporting Member States.

61 representatives of 40 Member States of the OPCW had the opportunity to engage in enriching discussions with OPCW and WCO experts. In a more practical aspect, they discussed transfer scenarios, identified best practices in exercising effective control over trade in toxic chemicals, and shared experiences in implementing national training programmes in the enforcement of trade controls.

Ms. Beatrix Lahoupe, Head of OPCW’s Implementation Support Branch, noted: “New and evolving security threats, particularly those posed by non-state actors, require robust capabilities within customs authorities. The OPCW assists its Member States in enhancing national capacities in this area. This course strengthens customs officers’ trade monitoring skills within the CWC’s national, regional, and global security context”.

This training course is the result of a robust partnership between the OPCW and the WCO. The complementarity of their mandates calls for close collaboration which, according to WCO trainer Ms. Vesna Vračar, “creates important synergies for effectively addressing existing and new security challenges related to cross-border movement of toxic chemicals”.

Considering the increasing interest of Member States in enhancing their capabilities, the OPCW is considering conducting more training for customs authorities, thus complementing the Organisation’s well-established training-of-trainers programme for customs training institutions.

Please visit the OPCW website for more information.


May 27, 2021