“UNSC ARRIA MEETING ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE UNSC RESOLUTION 2118 ”
Statement by H.E. Ms. Yoka Brandt
Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations
NEW YORK, 28 September 2020
In 2013, Syria acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Nevertheless, contrary to its obligations as a new member-state and contrary to its obligations under Security Council resolution 2118, it chose not to surrender all of its stockpiles of chemical weapons for destruction nor to give up all its production facilities.
Even today, seven years later, Syria has not fully disclosed its chemical weapon programme and does not fully cooperate with the Declaration Assessment Team of the OPCW.
On the contrary, Syria has repeatedly used chemical weapons in attacks on its own people. Recently, the first report of the Investigation and Identification Team concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that in three separate chemical weapon attacks in Ltamenah in March 2017, units from the Syrian Arab Air Force were responsible for using sarin and chlorine.
Previous UN-mandated reports - by the Joint Investigative Mechanism - found Assad’s regime to have used chemical weapons against his own people on at least four different occasions.
This leads to the conclusion that the Assad regime is in breach of its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and fails to comply with Security Council Resolution 2118.
In June 2018, Member States of the OPCW mandated the Director General to establish the Investigation and Identification Team to investigate possible attacks with chemical weapons in Syria and identify those responsible.
It is of the utmost importance that member states support the work of the OPCW and enable the IIT to conduct the investigations in full autonomy.
The Netherlands has full confidence in the professionalism, impartiality and objectivity of the OPCW as a whole, including the Fact Finding Mission and the IIT.
The Netherlands fully supports the decision of the Executive Council of July 2020, condemning Syria for the use of chemical weapons and requesting that Syria, within 90 days, redresses the situation as demanded in the decision.
To conclude: the use of chemical weapons can never be justified; those responsible must be held to account.
We wish to underline it is not only the use of chemical weapons that demands accountability.
In this regard, my country has invoked Syria’s responsibility for human rights violations under international law, specifically holding Syria to account for torture under the UN Convention against Torture.
We also wish to express our continued support for the IIIM.
For the victims, for Syria, and for the rest of the international community, it is critical that all of these violations cease and that the impunity finally ends.