Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 1 2015 Contents RECOGNISING
disarmament expert Dr Bob
Mathews’ lifelong dedication
to achieving a
world free of chemical
weapons was recognised and rewarded
when he co-received the inaugural
Hague Award from the Organisation for
the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
Bob is one of three DSTO scientists
who recently received awards.
Dr Stephen Burke won the Defence
Minister’s Achievement Award for his
work in the life extension of Defence
Young researcher, Rhys Lehmann,
received an aviation safety award.
Bob was presented with his
internationally acclaimed award last
December by the Director-General of
OPCW, Ahmet Uzumcu, at a function in
The Hague, Netherlands.
A 45-year veteran of DSTO, Bob has
dedicated his career to the elimination of
chemical and biological weapons as well
as developing protective measures against
the threats they pose.
He became deeply committed to the
cause after seeing the “barbarous effects”
of the use of chemical weapons in the
Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.
Bob says he is very grateful to
the OPCW for its recognition of his
contribution over the past 30 years.
“It is the highlight of my career. I have
been most fortunate for the opportunity
to be a member of the various Australian
teams which have been involved in the
different stages of the Chemical Weapons
Convention,” he says.
“The Australian Government’s
commitment to the eradication of
chemical weapons has enabled me to
be involved with the Convention from
the early negotiations in the Conference
on Disarmament in Geneva from 1984
through to the end-game process in
1991-92, the Preparatory Commission
years, which resulted in the establishment
of the OPCW in 1997 and the operational
Bob was Scientific Adviser to the
Australian delegation to the Conference
on Disarmament from 1984-1992, and
was appointed in 2004 to the Scientific
Advisory Board of the OPCW, a position
he held until 2011.
He collaborated with scientists in the
UK and US in developing the Chemical
Agent Monitor, which was approved
for use in 1984 to detect chemical
contamination in people, equipment and
In the mid-1980s, he was successful in
establishing DSTO as an UN-designated
The co-winner of the inaugural
OPCW-The Hague Award,
Dr Bob Mathews
OPCW – The
THE award, created by the Organisation for
the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, was
an outcome of the Organisation winning the
2013 Nobel Peace Prize.
It is intended to honour and recognise
individuals and non-profit, non-
governmental organisations that have made
an outstanding contribution to achieving a
world free of chemical weapons.
In doing so, the potential awardees will have:
contributed significantly to advancing one
or more of the objectives of the Chemical
Weapons Convention; and/or
provided sustained leadership to practical
and collaborative initiatives related to
the objectives of the Chemical Weapons
Convention through research, publication,
education, training or outreach to relevant
Issue 1 2015 Defence
laboratory for analysing samples for
investigations into the alleged use of
In 1994, Bob was awarded an Order of
He has published more than 50
articles and working papers on chemical
In 2002, he was appointed an honorary
Associate Professor at the University of
Melbourne Law School. In 2003 Latrobe
University conferred a Doctor of Science
Looking back over those years, Bob
says he had the privilege of working with
some wonderful friends and colleagues
from every corner of the world,
particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
“I think of this award as also very
much belonging to all those dedicated
individuals,” he says.
The co-recipient of the award, the
Finnish Institute for the Verification of
the Chemical Weapons Convention, has
been in existence for 40 years.
During that time it has made a
sustained contribution to chemical
disarmament by focusing on the
development and dissemination of
analytical chemistry techniques
and tools for the verification of the
Chemical Weapons Convention.
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