SC: Syria - Chemical Weapons

Statement made by Political Coordinator Meena Syed in the Security Council meeting on chemical weapons in Syria, 5 December 2022.

Let me start by thanking High Representative Nakamitsu for her briefing.

Despite the regrettable lack of progress on this dossier overall, let me start by highlighting the few positives during Norway's soon 2-year tenure on the Security Council:

We applaud the important work undertaken by the OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team and the Fact-Finding Mission amid the challenges posed by the global pandemic. In the past two years, we have seen them release several reports.

Norway will continue to support the OPCW’s important investigative efforts, which are crucial to ensuring accountability. It is positive that the IIT and FFM have continued to fulfil their engagement with the Syrian authorities, including the FFM’s most recent deployment of last month.

Norway also commends the Secretariat for continuing its bi-annual inspections of the Barzah and Jamrayah facilities, as mandated by this Council.

We further highlight the Tripartite Agreement between the OPCW, UNOPS, and Syria as another vital component of the Secretariat’s activities. We welcome the recent agreement on an extension.

However, it is with great disappointment that we have witnessed the breakdown in engagement between the Syrian authorities and the Declaration Assessment Team, due to persistent delays in the issuing of visas. This undermines the priority of ensuring consistent cooperation, exchanges of information, and technical assistance to Syria.

Norway again urges Syria to fully cooperate with the OPCW and provide sufficient technical information or explanations to close the 20 outstanding issues, which have remained outstanding for far too long. The Syrian Arab Republic must fulfil its obligations in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention and Security Council Resolution 2118.

This resolution explicitly mentions Syria’s obligation to: accept personnel designated by the OPCW; to provide these personnel with immediate and unfettered access; and the right to inspect any and all sites.

Norway also reiterates its call on Syria to complete the necessary measures to lift the suspension of its rights and privileges as a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Let me close by underlining that accountability for those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be ensured. Norway supports the work of Director-General Arias, the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW, and their commitment to ensuring that the international prohibition against the use of chemical weapons is upheld.

Norway strongly condemns any use of chemical weapons, under any circumstances, by anyone. It is an abhorrent crime, a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. One which should be addressed seriously by this Council. We will remain steadfast in our support to ensure accountability and prevent future use.