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National Statement Delivered by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Briefing on Syria - Chemical Weapons

Thank you very much, indeed Madam President.


I want to offer my congratulations and full support to you in taking on the Presidency of this Council in month of February.


I also would like to thank Under-Secretary General Nakamitsu for her briefing today.


Madam President,


Ireland unequivocally condemns any use of chemical weapons. The international community, and this Council in particular, ought not to remain silent in the face of the use of such weapons. Such violations of international law must not go unaddressed. Accountability is vital.


I would like to make three short points today.


First, I want to reiterate Ireland’s full confidence in the OPCW, and in the diligence, professionalism and impartiality of its staff.This has been clearly demonstrated in the rigorous work and reporting of the Technical Secretariat, including the Declaration Assessment Team, the Fact-Finding Mission, and the Investigation and Identification Team, in addressing chemical weapons and their use in Syria.


Given the importance of this work Under Secretary-General, I would like to ask you, in relation to the worsening health crisis in Syria as a result of COVID, what do you think is the realistic timeframe for the OPCW’s various deployment operations to return to full capacity on the ground in Syria?  And how can we minimize the risk that the pandemic is used as a pretext for lack of political will?


My second point is that the the problems that we face in Syria, the gaps and inconsistencies in its initial declaration, and the JIM and IIT reports on chemical weapons use which attributed use to the Syrian authorities in several instances, are issues that we take very seriously.


We believe this Council should act urgently, should act in a united way, to address this issue. Otherwise, we fail the victims of these attacks in Syria, and we risk undermining the established global norm against the use of these appalling weapons.


Finally Madam President, the Syrian authorities bear the responsibility, the immediate responsibility, to fulfill their obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and Security Council Resolutions, and to cooperate actively, openly and in good faith with the OPCW.


The OPCW Executive Council has set out the actions Syria needs to take to return to full compliance with the CWC. I regret that Syria did not respond in the timeframe envisaged by the Executive Council and now I urge Syria to take immediate action on these.


In the absence of these, Ireland will support action by the Conference of States Parties to the CWC to address Syria’s non-compliance. 


Thank you

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