Home SECURITY & DEFENCE The absence of accountability for Syria’s use of chemical weapons is a danger to us all

The absence of accountability for Syria’s use of chemical weapons is a danger to us all

On Thursday January 5th,  Fergus Eckersley, UK Political Coordinator at the UN, delivered a statement at the UN Security Council briefing on Chemical Weapons in Syria.

by gary cartwright
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“Last year we marked the 25th anniversary of the Chemical Weapons Convention’s entry into force. Each of us has a responsibility to ensure that it is upheld.

“Prior to the start of the conflict in 2011, Syria had an extensive chemical weapons programme. In 2013, after multiple chemical weapons attacks this Council unanimously adopted resolution 2118. But it became clear that Syria had retained a chemical weapons capability in contravention of resolution 2118 and the Chemical Weapons Convention – and worse than that, further attacks took place.

“OPCW and joint UN-OPCW investigations confirmed that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons, including chlorine and sarin, on at least 8 occasions.

“These were shocking attacks by the Syrian regime, designed to inflict mass casualties and extreme suffering on its own people.

“Syria has since done everything possible to deflect and deny OPCW efforts to resolve the many serious gaps and omissions in its chemical weapons declaration.  As we’ve heard, Syria still today shows its contempt for its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and UNSCR 2118.

“Sadly, over the last 9 years, accountability and effective Council action to uphold resolution 2118 has also been consistently blocked in the Council. There has also been a consistent disinformation campaign designed to undermine the OPCW and protect the Syrian regime from accountability for its crimes.

“It is not too late to turn this around. We welcome the Technical Secretariat’s latest initiative to send a reduced team to Syria in January. This is an opportunity, finally, for the Syrian regime to come into compliance with their obligations. The responsibility rests with them.

“We are approaching 10 years since the adoption of UNSCR 2118. As a Council we must insist on its full implementation. This means the complete destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and accountability for their use: the absence of accountability is a threat to international peace and security and a danger to us all.

“As a Council we cannot turn a blind eye. We too must uphold our responsibilities.”

Image: By محمد السعيد – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp_Ju6742Z0, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28061947

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