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Number: 2004-048-1-020

Title: A joint OPCW - IUPAC project on education and outreach regarding chemical weapons

Task Group
: Peter W. Atkins

Members: Edwin D. Becker, Leiv K. Sydnes, and Natalia P. Tarasova

Completion Date: 2006 - project completed

Remark: An earlier project on the impact of scientific developments on the Chemical Weapons Convention was completed in 2003 > see details

To increase awareness of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and its requirements in the scientific community (chemists and chemical engineers), to enhance the knowledge about its key provisions and requirements, to integrate issues related to the Convention and its implementation into chemistry teaching, and to promote professional conduct of chemists and chemical engineers that is fully in line with the Convention.

There are essentially two groups of issues that the study could address: Firstly, the question of professional ethics; secondly, the question of how to incorporate issues to do with the CWC into chemistry education.

In respect to the first question, the study could address whether it is desirable that professional associations (e.g., chemical societies), teaching institutions such as universities, scientific academies and similar institutions adopt codes of conduct specifically reflecting the prohibitions of the CWC, or include such issues into existing codes. Such codes do, of course, already exist in a number of countries and institutions, professional associations, as well as in the chemical industry. Issues that could be studied may include how the adoption of such codes on a global basis could be promoted, how awareness about such codes could be increased, what the essential elements of such codes should be in respect to the chemical weapons ban, and how they relate to other codes of scientific work ethics.

In respect to the second question, the study could identify aspects of the CWC that each chemistry student should be taught, and discuss how these issues relate to the rest of the curriculum/curricula. The study could also look at alternative means of education (for example, self-study material, internet and "traditional" publications, activities of chemical societies). Essentially, the objective is to identify ways and means to ensure that future generations of chemists and chemical engineers will receive in their professional training a certain amount of knowledge about the CWC and its requirements. In addition, there could be merit in discussing issues of a more specialised nature that could be taken up in chemistry education and training, such as technical aspects of verification of the CWC, CW destruction technologies, responses to uses of chemical weapons, protection against the effects of CW - to mention just a few examples.

A first task group meeting was held in the Hague on 17 January 2005. Interaction with an International Advisory Board (about 15-20 members appointed jointly by IUPAC and OPCW), detailed plan and time frame have been considered.

A joint meeting of IUPAC and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, on the CWC and the role of chemists, was held in Oxford (UK) from 9-12 July 2005. Two recommendations of the meeting were (i) the need for chemists to develop their own codes-of-conduct, and (ii) for the development of educational material which describes the CWC and the obligations it places on the 160 member states who are signatories. It was felt important to place the CWC in the context of the beneficial uses and misuses of chemicals, and raise awareness of multiple uses of the same substances.
A technical report entitled 'Education, outreach, and codes of conduct to further the norms and obligations of the Chemical Weapons Convention' has been published as Pure Appl. Chem. 78(11), 2169-2192, 2006.

Two other projects have been initiated to address each of the recommendations, (i) the need for chemists to develop their own codes-of-conduct, and (ii) the development of educational material

project completed

Last update: 25 October 2006


<project announcement published in Chem. Int. May/Jun 2005>

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Page last modified 25 October 2006.
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