Syria (Chemical Weapons) - Security Council VTC Briefing

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06-Apr-2021 01:37:54
In briefing on Syria, top disarmament official says Security Council unity required to re-establish norm against use of chemical weapons.

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Eradicating the use of chemical weapons hinges on unity among Security Council members at a time when ending the Syrian conflict still remains a collective responsibility, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs said in a video conference meeting today.

Izumi Nakamitsu provided a snapshot of recent achievements and delays, largely due to the conflict and COVID-19, briefing the 15-member Council on the implementation of resolution 2118 (2013), which outlines the scheduled destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. Indeed, the pandemic continues to affect the deployment of the Declaration Assessment Team, but other efforts to clarify the remaining outstanding issues are ongoing between Syria and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Citing several gains, she said samples collected in September 2020 have been analysed, with some unexpected results, and in March 2021, Syria provided the OPCW Technical Secretariat with further explanations currently under review. Damascus also stated that a former chemical weapons production facility was never used for those activities. Her Office has held meetings with Syria’s representative and regularly contacts OPCW for updates, she said, emphasizing that the Government’s engagement and dialogue is critical to closing all outstanding issues. While reports are pending on certain issues, she said Syria has yet to provide explanations that would allow OPCW to close all its investigations.

Meanwhile, she continued, OPCW continues to engage with Syria and other States parties concerning to a variety of activities, and the Investigation and Identification Team is continuing its work on several reported activities identified by the fact-finding mission. OPCW continues to monitor the security situation, providing updates on when it will be prepared to deploy further investigations. However, eight years after adopting resolution 2118 (2013), much work remains to be done. Unity in the Security Council is required to re-establish the norm against the use of chemical weapons, which should be seen as a taboo. Cooperation is imperative going forward, she stressed, emphasizing that a solution to the conflict must meet the aspirations of all Syrians and ending the war is a collective responsibility.

The representative of Syria regretted to note that the High Representative omitted recent Government updates on several matters from her latest report. Highlighting a range of concerns, he demanded that due attention be paid to Syria’s reports on the presence of terrorist groups working with foreign intelligence agencies to launch chemical weapon attacks and blame the Syrian Arab Army and its allies. Certain States must stop politicizing the matter, he said, adding that despite this and other challenges, including COVID-19, Syria remains committed to its obligations to international conventions and working with OPCW towards the resolution of outstanding issues.

Delegates exchanged views during the meeting, with many welcoming the deployment of the Declaration Assessment Team and others highlighting an urgent need to eradicate chemical weapons and for perpetrators to be held accountable. Others urged Syria to provide full explanations so OPCW can close its investigations while abiding by all elements of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction. Some delegates raised concerns about weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists, emphasizing a need to continue the fight against these terrorist groups.

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