Chemical weapons poses danger to human and biodiversity

By Yaw Ansah, GNA

Accra, Aug. 13,
Chemical weapons, aside from being considered the most dangerous of all
known weapons of mass destruction, also causes extensive damage to
biodiversity, making it inhabitable to human.

They are used
to cause epidemics among humans; destroy nature and its services including
water, air, soil, crops and livestock.

To prohibit its
development, production, acquisition, retention, stockpiling, transfer and use
of chemical weapons, first responders (selected security agencies) from the
Economic Community for West Africa States (ECOWAS) have commenced a four-day
intensive training in Accra to enhance their capabilities.

With the
acquired knowledge, skills and abilities, first responders would be able to
conduct necessary operations in the aftermath of a chemical weapon attack or
any incident involving toxic industrial chemicals.

Madam Patricia
Appiagyei, the Deputy Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and
Innovation (MESTI) speaking at the opening of the workshop on Tuesday in Accra
said, issues concerning chemical weapons were worrying due to the danger it
posed to countries including Ghana.

The basic
training course is within the framework of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and
was jointly organized by the Government of Ghana, the Technical Secretariat of
the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), with funding
from the Government of the United Kingdom.

Under the
Convention, signatories including Ghana are to destroy Chemical Weapons and the
Chemical Weapons Production Facilities (CWPFs) under its jurisdiction or
control as well as abandoning chemical weapons on their territory.

States Parties
are prohibited from engaging in military preparations to use chemical weapons,
from assisting or encouraging anyone to engage in activities prohibited by the
CWC and from using riot control agents as a method of warfare.

Madam Patricia
Appiagyei said Ghana was ready to collaborate with all Member States and the
Technical Secretariat of OPCW to prevent, prepare, mitigate and respond to
chemical weapon attacks or incidents involving toxic industrial chemicals.

She said the
National Authority of Ghana had submitted some proposed amendments on the
Chemical Weapons Convention draft Bill to the Office of the Attorney-General.

The Minister
assured that Ghana would soon enact a legislation to guide the implementation
of the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

“Most countries
do not have adequate security around such areas. Attacks using explosives and
chemicals endanger public safety on a large-scale, and can severely impact the
economic and political stability of countries.”

The Minister noted
that the high-profile incidents of chemical weapon attacks had affected all
regions of the world including Brussels, Abuja, Boston, London, Madrid, Moscow,
Mumbai, Syria and Iraq over the past decade.

Threats of
chemical weapons, she said, presents a collective responsibility to prevent or
minimize the threat of a chemical weapons attack or accidents on civilian

“We therefore
need to establish active, well-trained emergency response teams and equip them
with the requisite technical know-how to identify chemical agents, be able to
decontaminate affected areas and people exposed to chemical weapons, and also
be able to coordinate rescue operations,” she said.

A statement
delivered on behalf of Iain Walker, the British High Commissioner to Ghana,
expressed optimism that the training would help form lasting capabilities and
urged the trainees to impart the knowledge they would acquire to their
colleague officers.

He said earlier
this year, the United Kingdom announced a voluntary contribution of 1.1 million
pounds to support OPCW, and that had helped the ECOWAS to benefit from such

Mr Walker said
globally, the resurgence in the use of chemical weapons posed a threat to
international peace and security and urged all to support the OPCW in its
mission to implement the CWC and achieve a world free of chemical weapons.