The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has been working to dismantle chemical weapons arsenals since the entry into force, on 29 April 1997, of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC). Switzerland participates in the sessions of the OPCW's Executive Council, of which it is a member for the 2016–18 period, and in the annual conferences of the states parties. The Multilateral Section is also responsible for relations with the OPCW's Technical Secretariat and serves as a link between it and the Swiss authorities.
The primary goal of the CWC is the destruction, under the supervision of the international community, of chemical weapons arsenals. Over the past two decades (1997–2017), more than 90% of declared chemical weapons have been destroyed under the supervision of the OPCW. The OPCW was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2013, propelling it to the centre of the international attention in the midst of the efforts begun by its staff and its member states at the end of the summer of that year to initiate the destruction Syria's chemical arsenal. The OPCW, which currently has 192 members, has almost achieved universality.
For Switzerland, the OPCW is a key organisation in the fight against weapons of mass destruction. It is, first of all, a cornerstone of non-proliferation and disarmament efforts, an area in which Switzerland has been very active. Second, given Switzerland's substantial chemical and pharmaceutical industry, Switzerland advocates an effective industrial verification regime. In addition, Switzerland is cooperating with the OPCW to ensure a swift response whenever chemical weapons are used.
The Spiez Laboratory, a division of the Federal Office for Civil Protection, is one of the 19 laboratories in the OPCW's Designated Laboratories network. Thanks to the Spiez Laboratory, whose internationally recognised expertise is shared with the OPCW and its member states (analyses, training courses and thematic contributions), Switzerland benefits from a world-class institution.