Explanation of Vote by Sweden at the UN Security Council Adoption on the situation in the Middle East (Syria)

Explanation of Vote delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Adoption on the situation in the Middle East (Syria), 16 November 2017, New York.

Mr President,

What a regrettable session. I hope that that the victims of chemical weapons attacks are now watching us.

It is highly regrettable that the Council has, once again, failed to unite behind an extension of the mandate of the OPCW/UN Joint Investigative Mechanism. Many commendable efforts have been taken, especially in the last few days, to make this happen. The JIM was set up by this Council, unanimously, and with a clear objective. That objective remains. Sweden's position has remained consistent – nonetheless, allow me to reiterate a few key points:

We unequivocally, in the strongest terms, condemn the repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria.

The Joint Investigative Mechanism and its objective, impartial and independent investigations have our full support. We have confidence in its professionalism, technical expertise and comprehensive forensic analysis. We have provided technical expertise and financial support.

Mr. President,

The mandate of the JIM must urgently be extended for the following, well-known, reasons:

The JIM plays a critical role in protecting the international disarmament and non-proliferation architecture, as the Permanent Representative of France has already said.

There are still some sixty cases of alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria being examined by OPCW that could be referred to the JIM. The sarin attack in Latamineh on the 30th of March, cited in the latest FFM report, is a case in point. It is our duty as members of this Council to do what we can to enable all of these attacks to be investigated and to hold those responsible to account. Chemical weapons' use is illegal; it constitutes a threat to international peace and security and can amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. There can be no impunity for such crimes.

The JIM has an important deterrent effect. The risks for new chemical weapons' attacks in Syria might increase, on our watch, if we do not manage to renew the JIM.

Mr. President,

We have listened carefully to all arguments made by members of this Council over the past few weeks. It is our assessment that there should be room to reach a compromise. The JIM was set up by this Council, unanimously, and with a clear objective. That objective remains. Renewing the JIM's mandate should be possible, but it can only be achieved through the Council coming together.

Mr President and colleagues,

We must not give up, all efforts to reach agreement must continue with urgency. Sweden will support all serious and genuine attempts to renew the mandate of the JIM and we will continue to engage to find a way forward.

Thank you Mr. President.

Contact

Lisa Laskaridis
Head of Press and Communication, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN
Phone +1 212 583 2543
Mobile +1 917 239 0941
email to Lisa Laskaridis