UN Disarmament Chief calls to end impunity for use of chemical weapons in Syria

Young boy in Idlib, Syria Young boy in Idlib, Syria Photo by Ahmed Akacha on Pexels

04 February 2021

The United Nations top disarmament official emphasized the need to end impunity for use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Izumi Nakamitsu, the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, briefed the UN Security Council on the importance of identifying those who have used chemical weapons in Syria and holding them accountable for their actions. During the briefing, Nakamitsu referenced Resolution 2118, in which states unanimously agreed to condemn any use of chemical weapons in Syria “in the strongest terms” in 2013.

Syria has been engaged in a civil war for nearly a decade, during which reports of chemical weapons use have frequently emerged. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) “verified the use of chemical weapons in many of these cases, but had refrained from assigning blame for who deployed them, raising criticism from activists that holding back such judgments diminished the chances for accountability.” According to the Arms Control Association (ACA), “the Syrian government has been found responsible for most of the chemical weapons attacks in Syria,” and has used sarin, a lethal nerve agent, as well as weaponized chlorine numerous times. Deployment of these weapons are deemed war crimes and violate the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which has been signed by Syria. 

While the coronavirus pandemic has impaired OPCW’s ability to deploy to Syria, the body’s Technical Secretariat continues to conduct operations related to the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons programme. The OPCW has been working to resolve outstanding issues regarding Syria’s possession of chemical weapons, but Syria has been unresponsive to requests of information from the organisation. Nakamitsu urged Syria to cooperate with the OPCW, and stated that the outstanding issues must be resolved in order to completely eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons programme.


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Author: Sitara Sandhu; Editor: Gabriella Pavlakis

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