The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which won Nobel Prize for Peace in 2013, is a globally acclaimed international organization dedicated to implement 1993 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC). The Convention entered into force on 29 April 1997. The CWC is a unique multilateral agreement banning an entire category of weapons of mass destruction in a verifiable manner under strict international control. The OPCW has presently 193 States as its members covering 98% of global population, and so far under its verification, 98.08% (70,882 metric tonnes) of the world’s declared stockpile of chemical agent have been destroyed.
Bangladesh signed the Chemical Weapons Convention on 14 January 1993 and ratified it on 25 April 1997, and established the Bangladesh National Authority for the Chemical Weapons Convention (BNACWC) on 29 December 1997 to comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention. To implement the provisions and fulfil the obligations under the CWC, Bangladesh promulgated the Chemical Weapons (Prohibition) Act, 2006 on 24 September 2006, and the Enrolment Rules, 2010 under the Act on 23 March 2010.
Bangladesh maintains robust cooperation with the OPCW by its Permanent Mission to the OPCW (Embassy of Bangladesh in The Hague) and the BNACWC. Hon’ble Foreign Minister of Bangladesh paid an official visit to the OPCW on 16 April 2015 to reiterate Bangladesh’s commitment to the OPCW. The Director-General as well as the Deputy Director-General of the OPCW paid official visits to Bangladesh from 16 to 18 October 2016 and 17-19 October 2017 respectively.
Bangladesh actively participates in the Policy Making Organs of the OPCW – the 193-member strong Conference of the States Parties (CSP) and the elected 41-member strong Executive Council (EC). In the CSP, Bangladesh was elected as a Vice-Chair in 2016 and 2018; Chair of the Committee of the Whole in 2014 and 2019; Chair of the Credential Committee in 2015, and Chair of the Credential Committee of the Fourth Review Conference in November 2018. On the other hand, Bangladesh served in the Executive Council as an elected member for 1997 and 1999-2001, 2002-2004 and 2016-2018. Bangladesh is also serving as an elected member of the EC for the term 2019-2021. Bangladesh was elected as the Chairperson of the Executive Council for the 2017-2018 term.
Bangladesh is engaged in the promotion of the CWC locally and internationally through hosting international, regional, sub-regional as well as local level events and seminars by the BNACWC in cooperation with the OPCW. The 16th Asian Chemical Congress held in Dhaka on 16-19 March 2016, regional seminar on chemical safety and security management held in Dhaka on 18-19 October 2016, international seminar on advanced chemical safety and security management held in Dhaka on on 17-19 October 2017, sub-regional training course on emergency response to chemical incidents held in Dhaka on 4-8 March 2018, international symposium on chemical safety and security management (in cooperation with Department of Chemical Engineering, BUET) in Dhaka on 11-12 February 2020, etc. along with numerous trainings/education and outreach activities for the government officials, chemical industry representatives, students of chemistry and chemical engineering, etc. are the examples of such activities.
Bangladesh is the first Member State of the OPCW to introduce HosPrep (chemical incident preparedness for hospitals) in July 2019. BNACWC along with Dhaka Medical College Hospital and Combined Military Hospital, Dhaka participated in the HosPrep Workshop and Training held in Dhaka on 22-24 July 2019 to initiate the nationwide comprehensive capacity building efforts in hospitals for dealing with chemical victims.
Dr. Syeda Sultana Razia, Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, BUET has been appointed as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of the OPCW for a three-year term with effect from 1 January 2018. Dr. Syeda Sultana Razia is the first Bangladeshi national appointed as a member of the SAB since its inception in 1998.
Bangladesh’s active participation and election in the Policy Making Organs of the OPCW and our commitment to the CWC as evidenced by BNACWC’s numerous activities manifest appreciation by the international community of our contribution to the world peace and signifies international recognition of our efforts to attain global disarmament and stem proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.