OPCW, South Africa organize training for customs officers

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the National Authority of South Africa recently organized a training course for customs officers in south and east Africa related to chemical weapon transfers.

The course, which took place on July 15-18 in Centurion, South Africa, was attended by 38 participants from 18 states parties and two non-states parties. The course was part of the Programme to Strengthen Cooperation with Africa on the CWC and received additional funding from Norway, according to an OPCW press release.

Attendees discussed overviews of the CWC and the OPCW, the role of national authorities, identification of chemicals relevant to the convention, transfer-related provisions of the CWC and the need for effective stakeholder engagement with customs authorities. Participants became familiar with the Handbook on Chemicals, the OPCW Central Analytical Database and the Online Scheduled Chemical database, as well as other relevant information sources.

The attendees learned practical ways to implement CWC provisions and how to eliminate discrepancies between quantities of scheduled chemicals declared by importing and exporting states parties during same transfers. The representatives also discussed customs-related matters and received an overview of how the South Africa Revenue Service handles imported and exported chemicals.

Daan van Beek, the chief director of the South African Council for the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, opened the proceedings.