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Statement on Chemical Weapons in Syria

Statement by Representative of Slovenia to the UN Security Council Ambassador Samuel Žbogar at the briefing on the situation in the Middle East

Thank you very much Mr. President.

Let me at the outset congratulate you and Japan on assuming the Presidency of the Council and let me assure our full support during your presidency. Let me also thank Guyana for conducting a very calm presidency of the month of February.

I would like to thank Deputy to the High Representative Ebo for his briefing.

Mr. President,

Let me begin with a general message: the use of chemical weapons in the 21st century is unacceptable. To us it feels almost anachronistic. Chemical weapons were used on the territory of Slovenia during World War I and we were unfortunately able to learn early on about their abhorrent effects.

More concretely, the long-standing prohibition of chemical weapons has been challenged in recent years by their repeated use in the Syrian Arab Republic, and elsewhere. Slovenia condemns in the strongest possible terms any use of chemical weapons by anyone. Such acts have devastating impacts on civilians and environment, constitute a serious violation of international law and those responsible for the use of weapons should be held accountable.

In this respect, Slovenia welcomes the work of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission in Syria (FFM) and the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT). We are pleased with the diligent work of the IIT, which most recently brought clarity to the circumstances surrounding chemical weapons use by ISIL forces in the Syrian town of Marea in September 2015.

Mr. President,

We remain concerned by the many unanswered questions regarding chemical weapons in Syria. There are reasonable grounds to believe that despite verified destruction of declared chemical weapons stockpiles and production facilities, Syria has retained part of its chemical weapons programme, in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

What is more, international investigation bodies have confirmed the use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces in nine instances since Syria’s accession to the Convention. This is unacceptable. We call on Syria to comply with its obligations under the Convention, declare all its chemical weapons production and research activities, destroy any remaining secret caches, and fully cooperate with the OPCW, including by providing unfettered access to sites, documents and people needed to resolve all outstanding issues.

Mr. President,

I cannot emphasize enough the need to prevent the re-emergence of the chemical weapons and the attention of the Security Council is only logical. Slovenia believes only a multilateral approach, with the CWC, OPCW and international humanitarian law at its centre, can pave the way to a world free of chemical weapons.

Mr. President,

We take note of the position of the Russian Federation that the Security Council should use wisely its time and resources. Since the Russian Federation does not want to be labelled as having double standards, we will remind them of this position as needed.

Thank you.

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