UNSC Briefing and Consultations on the Middle East Syrian Chemical Weapons Programme
JOINT STATEMENT OF THE A3 (GABON, GHANA AND KENYA)
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFING AND CONSULTATIONS ON THE MIDDLE EAST (SYRIAN CHEMICAL WEAPONS PROGRAMME)
I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the A3 members comprising Gabon, Kenya and Ghana. We are grateful to Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, for her briefing on the status of the implementation of the elimination of the Syrian Chemical Weapons Programme and stress the relevance of the continuing partnership between the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). We welcome the participation of the distinguished representatives of the Syrian Arab Republic, The Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey in this meeting.
The international Community and this Council, in particular, must be awakened to the potential re-emergence and increasing threats of chemical warfare and take steps to accelerate action towards a world free of chemical weapons. The A3, collectively stands against the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances. We remain committed to the established norms against the use of Chemical weapons and all efforts to rid their production, storage or use, including and reiterate our support for resolution 2118 (2013) of this Council which provides the framework for the expeditious and verifiable destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.
We thank the OPCW for its report covering the period of 24th February to 23rd March 2022, and express our support for its work as the foremost body responsible for ensuring the full implementation of the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons programme. In that regard, we welcome the continued efforts of the OPCW Secretariat to carry out its mandate and its readiness to deploy to Syria, subject to the easing of travel restrictions and the difficulties imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The A3 takes note of the verification of the destruction of all 27 chemical weapons production facilities (CWPFs) declared by the Syrian Arab Republic in furtherance of its obligations. We also note of the Syrian Authority’s submission to the Executive Council of its 100th monthly report regarding activities on its territory related to the destruction of its chemical weapons as well as its chemical weapons production facilities (CWPFs) as required of it by the Executive Council. We are, however, concerned by the Secretariat’s assessment that the declarations submitted by the Syrian Arab Authority still cannot be considered as accurate and complete in accordance with the Convention, resolution 2118 (2013) and the decisions of the Executive Council.
The unaddressed gaps, inconsistencies and outstanding issues in Syria’s initial and subsequent declarations must be addressed. We note that the convening of the twenty-fifth round of consultations to Syria has once again been held in abeyance owing to the denial of entryvisas to the full complement of the Declaration Assessment Team (DAT). We continue to encourage the Syrian Arab Republic to grant the necessary entry visas to all members of the team in compliance with its obligations. We believe also that enhanced cooperation between the OPCW Secretariat and the and the Syrian Authority would be useful to make progress in this regard.
We also note that the Secretariat’s request of October 2020, relating to all undeclared types and quantities of nerve agents produced and/or weaponized at a former CWPF that was declared as never having been used as such, as well, as requests for information regarding the damage caused to a military facility that housed a declared former CWPF reportedly attacked on 8th June, 2021, remain outstanding. As expressed in our previous statements, we believe that direct high-level exchanges between the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Syrian Republic and the OPCW Director-General would be helpful in building confidence and provide the needed impetus to advance the various aspects of the programme and encourage greater commitment to strengthen cooperation.
We also look forward to receiving further information on subsequent rounds of inspections of the Barzah and Jamrayah facilities of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre which have been planned for this year. We note that the Tripartite Agreement concluded between the OPCW, the Syrian Arab Republic and the UNOPS (the United Nations Office for Project Services) ends on 30th June this year and we encourage its extension to maintain the supportive role of the UNOPS to the implementation of the Syrian Chemical Weapons programme.
The A3 takes note of the continuing efforts of the Fact-Finding Mission in Syria (FFM) and the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) as mandated by the relevant Executive Council decisions and re-iterates the need for them to remain independent, transparent and impartial as they carry out their respective mandates. We will continue to be supportive of accountability measures to strengthen deterrence and reinforce the well-established norms against the use of chemical weapons.
Finally, we urge the support of the Council in addressing, more constructively, those issues which constrain meaningful progress in the full implementation of resolution 2118 (2013). The early closure of the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons programme forms an important part of our common goal of international peace and security.
I thank you for your kind attention.