Swedish statement at the UNSC Briefing on the Middle East (Syria)
National statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on the Middle East (Syria), 4 April 2018, New York.
Thank you Mr President,
And let me thank Mr. Markram for his briefing today.
As other speakers before me have pointed out, today marks the one year anniversary of the sarin attack in Khan Sheikhoun, which has been attributed by the Joint Investigative Mechanism to the Syrian regime. This was a repugnant attack, with a large number of civilian casualties. Today, the failure to agree on a new independent and impartial attributive mechanism for chemical weapons use in Syria casts a particularly dark shadow over the Council.
Sweden condemns in the strongest terms the continued and repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria, which constitutes a serious violation of international law and a threat to international peace and security. The use of chemical weapons in armed conflict is prohibited and is a war crime. Perpetrators of such crimes must be held accountable. Impunity, cannot be accepted.
With regard to the implementation of resolution 2118, I reiterate our deep concern that the OPCW is still unable to confirm whether Syria's initial declaration on its chemical weapons programme is accurate and complete. There are still a number of serious outstanding issues. As a matter of fact, the OPCW Director-General last month reported that the initial five outstanding questions have now grown to 22. This includes the case with the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre, where several questions remain unanswered. We again call upon the Syrian authorities to fully and pro-actively co-operate with the OPCW on all outstanding issues. There must be full disclosure and submission of all required documentation without delay.
We share the Secretary-General's alarm at the persistent reports of chemical weapons use in the conflict in Syria. These must be followed up by timely and impartial investigations and we reiterate our full support for the OPCW's Fact-Finding Missions. But the perpetrators of such attacks must also be identified and held to account.
We deeply regret that this Council failed to agree on an extension of the Joint Investigative Mechanism last November. An attributive mechanism is essential to protect the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime and to ensure accountability for the repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria.
I want to join the representatives of France, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and others in their urge this morning for unity. We need to come together in this Council and shoulder our responsibility. We reiterate our call for constructive engagement by all members and we remain ready to engage and contribute in such consultations.
Sweden supports all international efforts to combat the use and proliferation of chemical weapons - by State or non-State actors alike - anywhere in the world.
We will continue to do our part to end impunity for the use of chemical weapons.
That is why Sweden joined the 'International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons', an initiative by France designed to complement and support our collective work in multilateral fora as well as existing multilateral mechanisms.
That is why we will continue to support the Human Rights Council's Commission of Inquiry and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM).
And that is why we will continue to pursue efforts to establish a new independent and impartial attributive mechanism for chemical weapons use in Syria.
Because at the end of the day there can be no sustainable and long-term peace in Syria without accountability for the crimes committed. We owe this to the victims in Khan Sheykhoun and elsewhere in Syria.
I thank you Mr President.