Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Briefing on Syria Chemical Weapons
News08 December 2021
Thank you Mr President and thank you High Representative Nakamitsu for your informative briefing today.
Mr President, The continuing lack of progress on this file is a matter of serious concern for us.
It is eight years since the horrific chemical weapons attack at Ghouta, which killed hundreds of innocent civilians, and caused lasting injury and suffering for thousands. The Council adopted Resolution 2118 to make clear that the use of Chemical Weapons is utterly unacceptable, and that no such attack should ever happen again in Syria. Unfortunately, as we know, and as the investigations by the UN and the OPCW have confirmed, there have been numerous instances since then, where these terrible weapons have been directed against the Syrian people.
It is essential that this Council maintains its strong and clear message on upholding the international prohibition on chemical weapons, and ensuring they are never used again in Syria or anywhere else.
Resolution 2118 is very clear on what is required:
No party, whether it is the Syrian authorities or non-state actors, can be allowed to hold, use, acquire or develop chemical weapons;
Chemical weapons in Syria must be verifiably destroyed, to be confirmed by the OPCW;
Syria must cooperate fully with the OPCW, accept personnel designated by the OPCW in the course of their work, and provide “immediate and unfettered access”; and
Those responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria should be held accountable.
This is what the international community agreed, and these are the obligations on us, as well as on Syria.
As Resolution 2118 highlights, the OPCW is an essential partner in achieving these ends. It is vital that the Council continues to give full backing to the OPCW, in its ongoing work on all aspects of the Syrian chemical weapon file. We should all respect the integrity and professionalism that the OPCW have shown in carrying out their mandate, and reject efforts to undermine that work for political ends.
Mr President, it is in this context that we support the proposed bilateral meeting between DG Arias and Minister Mekdad. We hope that arrangements for this will soon be finalised. It is important that this is a frank and meaningful discussion aimed at resolving the impasse, and ensuring that real progress can be made on all of the outstanding issues.
Mr President, let me conclude by underlining that the resolution of this file ultimately lies in the hands of the Syrian authorities. Syria must, as others have said, respect its obligations under the CWC and Resolution 2118, and must engage substantively with the OPCW. It should take immediate steps to lift its blockage of the DAT’s deployment, and to resolve the significant outstanding issues with its initial declaration.
It is only through Syria’s serious and meaningful cooperation with the OPCW that we can be assured that its entire stocks of chemical weapons are declared and verifiably destroyed, in line with its obligations under the CWC and Resolution 2118. All of us want to see a resolution to this file, and Ireland will continue to support all efforts to this end.