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Organisation for the prohibition of chemical weapons

First contract at the OPCW - The Hague Netherlands : Practical information


OPCW Headquarters
Johan de Wittlaan 32
NL- 2517 JR The Hague, Netherlands
Tél.: +31-70 416 33 00
Fax: +31-70 306 35 35

How to get to the OPCW

Tram 17 or Bus 24 from railway stations Den Haag Centraal Station (CS) or Den Haag Holland Spoor (HS) - direction Scheveningen - to the "Gemeente Museum" or "Museon" stop. Walk past the Photo Museum and behind the Musea, next to Bel Air Golden Tulip Hotel, you'll see the OPCW building. It is at most a 5 min walk.

Tram 1 only from Den Haag Holland Spoor (HS) railway station - direction Scheveningen - to World Forum Convention Center (formerly: Congrescentrum) stop. Slightly longer walk.

Official Languages

The OPCW's working languages are the six official languages of the CWC (Chemical Weapons Conference): Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

Recruitment procedures

Recruitment of interpreters is the responsability of Ms Loreto Bravo de Urquia, Head of the Language Services Branch, with the assistance of Ms Fatuma Ambo, Administrative Language-Services Assistant.
Ms Bravo phone: +31-70 416 38 10
Ms Ambo phone: +31-70 416 38 09

For introductory purposes, you may fill in an OPCW personal history form (PHF), which can be downloaded from the OPCW website. Once completed, this form should be sent by post, with a covering letter, to Ms. Loreto Bravo, Head of Language Services Branch at the above-mentioned address. Please indicate your language combination and availability during the ensuing one-year period. Should your language combination be suited to the OPCW's interpretation requirements, your details will be placed on its active roster and you will be advised accordingly.

Prior to your first contract, you will be asked to complete a medical history form (MHF), and a file update form, with details of your up-to-date lamguage combination and travel requirements (e.g. visa requirements if necessary), which is to be submitted to you by Ms Ambo via email or fax. You will receive a letter explaining the procedure to follow on the day of your first contract.

First contract with the OPCW

Meeting Venues and Security requirements

Be at the OPCW one hour before the start of the first sitting of your meeting: you will be informed in advance of the precise time at which you are expected. There is a strict security policy in place at the OPCW. Bring identification (e.g. passport or identity card), otherwise you will not be givent access into the building.

Although most OPCW meetings take place at the OPCW headquarters, some (usually the OPCW Conferences) take place at the World Forum Congress Centrum (WFCC), which is located next to the OPCW headquarters. You will know the venue of the meeting in advance.

Security provides you with a badge which will allow you access to the ground floor (access into the building, Delegates' Lounge, meeting rooms), first floor (cafeteria, library, ABN-AMRO bank), third floor (Language Services Branch), and fourth floor (OPCW Health and Safety Branch, for matters dealing with emergency medical services and first aid), as well as to the Mezzanine, which is where the booths and the Interpreters' Lounge are located; use this badge at all times.

Administrative procedures, meeting preparation and documentation

Ms Ambo will provide you, upon arrival, with an administrative briefing covering the necessary administrative information related to your contract with the OPCW. This will include a secrecy oath for each contract, as confidentiality is paramount in the work of the OPCW.

Substantive briefings for interpreters are organised for the first day of meeting in question, immediately before the sitting. These cover the agenda of the meeting, related background information, expected developments, etc., and provide the opportunity for interpreters to ask substansive questions and request any clarifications they might require on in-house and specialised terminology.

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) as well as other basic reference documents, and the documents of the meeting, will be available in the booth in the appropriate languages, but can also be emailed in advance, upon request. For most meetings, you will receive an agenda in advance of your contract start date to assist you in your preparations. In-sessions documents are brought directly to the booths as soon as they become available.

The OPCW library is open to interpreters, who may also use the library computers free of charge.

Meeting Times

As a general rule, OPCW meetings are held between 10:00 and 13:00 hours, and between 15:00 and 18:00 hours. Night meetings are extremely rare and tend to be due to sittings having started late, rather than planned for the night.


Interpreters who live outside The Hague receive eighty (80%) percent of their per diems on arrival. The twenty percent (20%) balance is deposited to their respective bank accounts, approximately two weeks after receipt by the OPCW of the duly-completed travel expense claim (which will be provided during the administrative briefing), including the original travel receipts (e.g. boarding passes and train tickets both for the incoming and for the outgoing journey, etc.) corresponding to the contractual travel period.

Services available to interpreters

The OPCW has made arrangements for medical coverage for its short-term staff under its Group Medical Insurance Scheme concluded with Van Breda International Group. This arrangement is benefical to interpreters, as it covers the travel days before and after the contracted period, an option that is not widely covered by other insurance brokers. Furthermore, as the OPCW subsidises 50% of this mecidal insurance, the coverage is obtained for an average amount of less than 1.00 euro per day.

There is a cafeteria in the first floor of the OPCW building, which is open from 07:30 to 16:00 hours. During most meetings, there is a coffee-bar service at the Delegates' Lounge on the ground floor of the OPCW building.

Should you need to change your travel arrangements due to change in the closing time of the meeting you are servicing, Ms Ambo will ensure that you obtain the required assistance.

There is a duty-free store at the OPCW. As short-term staff members, you are entitled to use this store; your entitlements, as established by the Dutch authorities, are as follows: gifts up to the total value of € 175.00, plus one carton of cigarettes, one bottle of alcoholic beverages (22% or higher) and one bottle of perfume.

About the OPCW

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is an international organisation whose ultimate aim is to contribute to international security and stability, to general and complete disarmament and to global and economic devlopment. Its mission is to implent the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in order to achieve the Organisation's vision of a world both free of chemical weapons and in which cooperation in chemistry for peaceful purposes for all is fostered. Although the OPCW is not a member of the United Nations family of organisations, the Secretary-General of the United Nations is the depository of the CWC, and many OPCW procedures are similar to those of the United Nations.

This article was written by Véronique Chatterjee-Mars with the invaluable assistance of Ms Loreto Bravo, Ms Maja Drazenovic and Mr. Edaly Gassama.

Recommended citation format:
VEGA Network. "Organisation for the prohibition of chemical weapons". March 7, 2003. Accessed January 22, 2020. <>.

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