The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
 FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIA

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Media Release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
30 April 2001

Australia to Host Workshop on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Chemistry Under the Chemical Weapons Convention

Australia will host a regional workshop and symposium on the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) from 30 April to 3 May 2001.

The Australian Government together with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI), will host the workshop in Melbourne.  It will bring together academic, chemical industry and government representatives from 14 South East Asian and the South Pacific countries to explore ways of promoting regional cooperation in the field of chemistry. 

It is the first time such a workshop is to be held in the Southern Hemisphere and in addition to Australia will involve the following countries:  New Zealand, the Philippines, Peoples Democratic Republic of Laos, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Cook Islands, and the Marshall Islands.

Participants will have the opportunity to share their national and professional experiences and work together to develop more effective ways to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention.  An area of specific focus will be the incorporation of CWC studies into the participating countries' education curriculums.

The workshop will consider specific suggestions  - proposed by participants - for economic and technological development through peaceful use of chemistry.  The workshop will present the outcomes of these deliberations to the OPCW with a view to securing OPCW support.

A one-day symposium open to both international workshop participants and representatives from the Australian chemical industry and universities will follow the workshop.  In addition to promoting regional cooperation at a non-governmental level, the symposium will aim to further enhance relations and strengthen networks between Australian organisations and their regional counterparts on CWC issues.

Australia is an original Member State of the Chemical Weapons Convention, an international disarmament and non-proliferation treaty that bans all chemical weapons.  In addition to the security benefits the Convention delivers, it also seeks to provide a framework for promoting economic and technological development through international cooperation in the peaceful uses of chemistry. 

Further inquiries:  Geoffrey Shaw 02 6261 1111

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