June 2024 Newsletter
28 June 2024: Commemorating the 37th Anniversary of the Chemical Attack on Sardasht
The Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) is infamous for its association with the use of chemical weapons, particularly on civilians. On 28 June 1987, the town of Sardasht, Iran, became the first of the war to be targeted with chemical weapons. Today, survivors continue to suffer from the consequences of the attack. 

CWC Coalition Chair Paul Walker commemorates the attack and its victims:“On the 37th anniversary of a horrible chemical weapons attack, we must not forget the thousands who were injured and killed in Sardasht, Iran, along the border with Iraq.  The health legacies left by the Iraqi attack — eyes, lungs, skin, and other chronic injuries — need to be addressed by Iran and the international community, including the OPCW.” See our posts commemorating the anniversary on the CWC Coalition’s XInstagram, and LinkedIn accounts. 

Homeyra Karimivahed, International Coordinator for the Organization for Defending Sardasht Victims of Chemical Weapons (ODVCW)elaborated on the situation that survivors face in an in-depth interview last year with the Middle East Treaty Organization (METO)

The OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias also released a statement honoring the victims of the attack and highlighting the need for international cooperation to prevent future attacks:”On behalf of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, I wish to convey our deepest sympathies to those who died and suffered – and still suffer – as a result of this atrocity. The tragedy of Sardasht is an event that unites us in condemnation and drives us in our determination to uphold the objectives of the Chemical Weapons Convention.”
Sardasht monument at the OPCW Headquarters, The Hague, Netherlands. Source: OPCW Flickr.

Updates on the Status of the Elimination of the Syrian Chemical Weapons Programme
In the most recent monthly meeting of the OPCW Technical Secretariat, the Director-General Fernando Arias addressed the status of the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons stockpile. As of 24 June 2024, the OPCW reported that the Syrian government has not complied with its obligations to destroy its full stockpile. The issue is expected to be raised at the next Executive Council meeting of the OPCW taking place from 9-12 July in The Hague. Read the full report from the OPCW here. 

Syrian Victims Seek Justice
Meanwhile, Syrian victims of the sarin attack on Ghouta in 2013, which the OPCW confirmed was perpetrated by Assad’s government, are advocating for acknowledgement of their suffering by turning to national courts. 

Documentary: Syria’s Ghouta chemical attack: Exiled activists seek justice for 2013 atrocity 
(Version française: Attaques chimiques dans la Ghouta en Syrie : comment juger l’horreur ? Les exilés demandent justice)

Resource: Syria and the OPCWThe OPCW maintains a full timeline of its work regarding Syria on its website, including active mandates, previous international missions and mechanisms, a detailed timeline, and relevant news stories.

OPCW Advisory Board on Education and Outreach Meets in The Hague

From 11 to 13 June 2024, the OPCW Advisory Board on Education and Outreach (ABEO) met in The Hague. According to the OPCW News story, “At this session, the Board discussed how to advance strategies and develop key messages to engage external stakeholders on topics related to the CWC. Youth was highlighted as an important audience to reach.” The importance of youth involvement in chemical education and disarmament was also highlighted at a recent OPCW workshop on the CWC and peaceful uses of chemistry held in May.

OPCW Educational Resources

The OPCW provides extensive, in-depth educational resources on its website. These materials are accessible to the public and can be used by anyone to spread awareness of the OPCW and its mission, the CWC, and science education.

Topics include:

  • The role of education and outreach in preventing the reemergence of chemical weapons
  • Science communication
  • Science literacy among the public
  • Communicating with the media
  • Education and outreach at the OPCW 
Participants at the Seventeenth Session of the Advisory Board on Education and Outreach (ABEO) (Source: OPCW Flickr)

OPCW-The Hague Award 2024 Open for Nominations

The OPCW is now accepting nominations for this year’s OPCW-The Hague Award, which annually recognizes “the numerous stakeholders, including academia, researchers, the chemical industry, international and regional organizations, and civil society, who make outstanding contributions to achieving a world free of chemical weapons.”

The award was established by the OPCW in 2014 in participation with the Municipality of The Hague as part of its 2013 Nobel Peace Prize win. The OPCW-Hague Award continues the legacy of “extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons” for which the OPCW was recognized and awarded the Nobel.

Recipients of the award receive a medallion, a certificate, and a share of the €90,000 award fund.

If you would like to put forward a nomination, the link and helpful guide can be found on the OPCW’s website. You can nominate a candidate here. Nominations will be accepted until 31 July 31 2024.

See past winners of the award, including: Hubert Foy, Director of the African Center for Science and International Security (2023); the CWC Coalition (2022); Alistair Hay, Professor of Toxicology at the University of Leeds (2015) and more.

Award ceremony for the 2022 OPCW-Hague Award, where CWC Coalition Chair Dr. Paul Walker received the award on behalf of the Coalition. (Source: OPCW Flickr.)


9-12 July 2024: 106th Session of the OPCW Executive Council, The Hague

31 July 2024: 2024 OPCW-The Hague Award nominations deadline

8-11 October 2024: 107th Session of the OPCW Executive Council, The Hague

25-29 November 2024: 29th Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, The Hague