Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on Syria (CW)
National statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Syria (chemical weapons), 5 November 2018, New York.
Thank you Mr President.
Since this is the first meeting for me personally this month let me also congratulate you and your team on your Presidency and thank Bolivia for their very active presidency last month.
During the conflict in Syria, we have witnessed the repeated use of chemical weapons as well as numerous other systematic and flagrant violations of international law by the parties to the conflict. The Joint Investigative Mechanism concluded that the Syrian Arab Republic and ISIL were responsible for using chemical weapons. We condemn this in the strongest terms. It is a serious violation of international law and it constitutes a threat to international peace and security. Such use in armed conflict amounts to a war crime.
The proliferation and use of chemical weapons must end and those responsible for such crimes must be held accountable. We have repeatedly stated in this Council that impunity is not an option. As you know, to this end, we have worked tirelessly, including with other elected members, to find an agreement on a mechanism for accountability. This is also why we joined the French-led International Partnership against impunity, and why we supported the decision of the Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, at its special session, to put in place arrangements to identify the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. While a mechanism established by this Council would have been, and remains, preferable, the issue is too important to be allowed to be blocked indefinitely. The decision of the Conference of States Parties does not however relieve this Council from its responsibility. We now look forward to updates to the Council on the implementation of this decision, as part of the monthly reporting under UN Security Council Resolution 2118.
Let me make the following comments to the latest report on the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria from the OPCW Director-General.
Firstly, we note that the Declaration Assessment Team of the OPCW is analysing the response by the Syrian authorities to the questions regarding the outstanding issues related to its chemical weapons declaration. We emphasise that all open issues must be closed as soon as possible. All remaining chemical weapons must be declared and destroyed in line with resolution 2118. We urge the Syrian authorities to co-operate fully and actively with the OPCW so that the accuracy and completeness of its declaration can ultimately be verified.
Secondly, we reiterate our full support for the OPCW and our complete confidence in the independent, impartial and professional work of its Fact-Finding Mission (FFM). We look forward to the up-coming reports regarding a number of pending investigations, including the final report on the alleged attack in Douma.
Thirdly, we remain deeply concerned by allegations that chemical weapons may be used again. In this regard we fully support and endorse the remarks by the Secretary-General in his letter transmitting this monthly report where he states, and I quote, “that any further possible use of chemical weapons in Syria would be wholly unacceptable”. All parties must be reminded of the clear and absolute prohibition on the use of chemical weapons under any circumstances.
As co-penholder on humanitarian matters in Syria I also wanted to take this opportunity to highlight and welcome the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Rukban which took place this weekend. We want to recognize the tremendous efforts by the UN and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to make this happen as well as the facilitation by Russia and the US. This is a critically needed relief for some 50 000 people that are stranded in the camp and who have not received aid since January. We need more positive examples like this as we continue to push for safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access to all people in need throughout Syria.
Let me also take this opportunity to comment on the latest development in the political track. The recent meetings in relevant formats shows that there is an international momentum that now needs to be seized, aiming to have the constitutional committee in place before the end of the year. At this critical time the Council needs to take a clear stand and show that we fully support the UN-led political process and make sure there will be some real progress in time for the Special Envoys briefing later this month.
I thank you.