At the ongoing States Parties to the Chemical Weapons convention in The Hague, Netherlands, Uganda has appealed for the institution of an academy to build local and regional capacity in handling chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear-related affairs, writes ALON MWESIGWA.
Pius Bigirimana, the permanent secretary, ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, lobbied other countries at the fourth special session, which is reviewing the operations of the chemical weapons convention.
The weeklong top-level conference ends on November 30. Bigirimana said this on Friday, noting that establishing the academy in Uganda would be an elevation for the Africa technical support programme through which African countries, including Uganda, benefit from the exchange of knowledge, provision of equipment and related technologies.
Uganda has been hosting the regional operational trainings under the convention, with the latest training having taken place from October 24 to November 1 in Jinja.
Thirty-six participants from Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda were trained as a pool of experts to conduct downward trainings and first responders to toxic chemical emergencies in the region.
Bigirimana said the programme had continued to infuse the necessary skills and capacity building within the implementation of the Convention.
"My delegation [therefore] requests for support from state parties in order to realize the idea of the academy and centre of excellence being established in Uganda." Bigirimana said.
He commended the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, especially the Assistance and Protection Branch, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom for dedicating expert trainers for the East Africa programme.
Uganda ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2001, after which, the Gender ministry was appointed the national authority for domestication of the convention. Although Uganda does not possess, produce or have stockpiles of chemical weapons, several of the chemicals used in local industries are a great threat to the population and require skilled handling.
Further in his statement, Bigirimana noted that Uganda attaches great importance to the universality of the Chemical Weapons Convention and called upon states that are not yet party to the convention to ratify or accede and fully implement its provisions.
"This will guarantee more safety and security on our continent and the world at large," he said.
He said Uganda is fully committed to its obligations under the convention and encouraged state parties to work towards achieving consensus and a successful conclusion of this Fourth Review Conference.