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2 May 2016 - 20 Jun 2016

ConfChem: Science, Disarmament, and Diplomacy in Chemical Education

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2016 Spring ConfChem: An Open Access Online Conference About Science, Disarmament, and Diplomacy in Chemical Education: The Example of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

ONLINE CONFERENCE @ https://confchem.ccce.divched.org/2016SpringConfChem

Science plays a critical role in international disarmament policy and diplomacy; informing the negotiations of international agreements, and underpinning their articles and implementation.  Of relevance to the science of chemistry, disarmament of chemical weapons provides an opportunity to introduce students to the nexus of science and international diplomacy.

An international disarmament treaty banning chemical weapons, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), has been in force since 1997.  The treaty has 192 States Parties (the governments that have agreed to uphold the norms and obligations required by the treaty) and is implemented by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW); an international organisation located in The Hague in the Netherlands and the recipient of the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts in chemical disarmament.

Despite its oversight of the destruction of more than 90% of declared military stockpiles of chemical weapons since the entry into force of the CW in 1997, the OPCW is not widely recognized outside of disarmament diplomacy circles.  Yet, the science of chemistry is an integral part of the CWC and the work of the OPCW, requiring that the organisation interact with the greater chemistry community.  To this end, the OPCW has placed a priority on education and engagement to raise awareness of its work and the contributions both from and to science in chemical disarmament.

The OPCW is actively involved with projects at the high school and university level in the Netherlands, working with both science and security focused student programmes.  The organisation maintains a series of educational resources with both scientific and diplomatic themes that include general information about the organisation and its history; films and online learning modules, chemistry classroom and laboratory materials with a disarmament focus; ethical and responsible science considerations; and resources for science communication to both technical and non-technical audiences.

We will present an overview of the available educational resources and initiatives to introduce the OPCW, its history, and scientific aspects of disarmament diplomacy.


Robert E. Belford, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, [email protected]

Jonathan E. Forman, Science Policy Advisor, Office of Strategy and Policy, OPCW, [email protected]

Post conf update: A collection of invited papers based on presentations at the Open Access Online Conference “Science, Disarmament, and Diplomacy in Chemical Education: The Example of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons”, which was held from 2nd May till 20th June 2016, is published in the Feb 2017 issue of IUPAC journal Pure and Applied Chemistry.

Date & Time

2 May 2016


20 Jun 2016

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