Statement at the UNSC Briefing on Syria - Chemical Weapons
Statement28 February 2022
Thank you Mr President and let me thank you, High Representative Nakamitsu, for your informative briefing today.
I would like to begin by reiterating Ireland’s condemnation of any use of Chemical Weapons in the strongest possible terms. Any use of chemical weapons is an affront to international law on which we all depend for our security and wellbeing.
I wish to thank the OPCW Technical Secretariat for its work in addressing chemical weapons in Syria. Since the beginning of the year, we have seen two further reports by the FFM into chemical weapons use in Marea, in September 2015, and Kafr Zeita in October 2016. We have also seen DG Arias’ 100th and 101st monthly reports to Council. These reports, and the work behind them, demonstrate the integrity, professionalism and impartiality of the OPCW in its work in Syria.
The OPCW’s role remains essential. Council should be clear in its full support for the OPCW in its ongoing work in Syria, and in rejecting efforts to undermine the OPCW.
Mr President, These Security Council meetings serve an important purpose: to hold Syria to its obligations under the CWC and Council Resolutions.
Let us recall that in 2013, Council passed Resolution 2118 in response to the deaths of hundreds of Syrians from chemical weapons at Ghouta.
That Resolution set out a very clear bottom line:
No party, whether it is the Syrian authorities or non-state actors, can be allowed to develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain, transfer, or use chemical weapons;
Syria’s chemical weapons programme must be verifiably destroyed, to be confirmed by the OPCW.
Since then, however, and despite Syria’s accession to the CWC, the use of Chemical Weapons by the Syrian authorities has been clearly proven in numerous incidents, by the UN and the OPCW.
Equally, it has not been possible for the OPCW to determine that Syria’s initial declaration under the CWC is correct or complete. This is due to numerous ongoing and substantial gaps and inconsistencies, relating to whole production facilities, stockpiles of munitions and agents, and research and development activities left undeclared. Based solely on the Declaration Assessment Team’s findings, Syria has amended its initial declaration 17 times since October 2013.
The Technical Secretariat has made clear the concrete actions necessary to resolve these outstanding issues. It is for Syria to implement these actions and provide the necessary clarity on all outstanding matters.
An important start would be for Syria to stop blocking the DAT’s deployment to Syria for the 25th round of consultations, now outstanding since April of last year.
Mr President, a resolution to this file is entirely in Syria’s hands, should it engage in serious and meaningful cooperation with the OPCW. That can provide assurance for all of us that Syria’s entire stocks of chemical weapons are declared and verifiably destroyed, in line with its obligations.
We remain hopeful that the proposed meeting between DG Arias and Foreign Minister Mekdad can finally be arranged and that Syria engages genuinely with the Technical Secretariat to agree the arrangements for the meeting soon. It is essential that the meeting focuses on achieving concrete outcomes.
It is important that Syria’s engagement takes the form of productive actions and not merely words and delays.
Ireland will continue to support all efforts to resolve outstanding issues on this file.