Remarks by Ambassador Schulz during the Security Council VTC Meeting on Syria (Chemical Weapons), April 15, 2020

15.04.2020 - Speech

Check Against Delivery

Let me start by welcoming the release of the first IIT report. We are gravely concerned by its conclusions, namely that the Syrian Arab Air Force is responsible for the use of Sarin and chlorine gas against the Syrian population in three cases. 

Germany would encourage the Secretary General to submit the IIT report to the Security Council this week.

As OPCW Director General Arias reminded us when he presented the report: the prohibition of the use of chemical weapons is an undisputed part of international law and the breach of this prohibition can constitute a war crime and a crime against humanity.

Accountability is essential and impunity for these heinous crimes is not an option. A foreign minister Maas stated right after the release of the report, it is now up to the international community to ensure that those responsible for these chemical weapons attacks are held accountable. Germany will support all efforts to continue to investigate and prosecute these crimes. We must act in accordance with our responsibility to uphold the Chemical Weapons Convention as well as her guardian, the OPCW. We owe this to the victims of these attacks.

Now is definitely not the time to repeat all. Go invent new, unsubstantiated claims to undermine the OPCW's legitimacy. Instead, it is the time to ensure that clear violations of the core principles of the Convention receive the strongest possible response. There's no reason to doubt the OPCW Technical Secretariat's professionalism, objectivity, impartiality and independence.

What we need to be talking about are the violations of international humanitarian law and the need for accountability. We are forced to witness such violations on so many levels in Syria, as evidenced also in the latest report presented by the Commission of Inquiry on March 2nd in Geneva. And we are seeing it also in Idlib. We once again call on the Russian Federation to use all its influence to bring the Syrian regime to comply with international humanitarian law. We hope that the findings of the first IIT Report will help to remind us once again that we need to better enforce the rules that we have set for ourselves and in identifying and bringing to account those who have repeatedly defied and will continue to violate those rules. As long as there's not sufficient progress in this regard, it remains necessary to revisit these issues in the established monthly pattern. Germany will certainly not tire to remind the Syrian regime of these obligations. That is, to fully cooperate with the OPCW and all its mechanisms, to fully declare its CW program, to verifiably destroy all chemical weapons, and to cooperate in good faith with all the OPCW teams, the DAT, FFM and the IIT. We have heard today that all missions have been suspended until further notice in light of the COVID-19 pandemic challenges. That does not mean that this work will completely stop and that these obligations have been suspended. Quite the contrary, it remains all the more important that the Syrian regime provides information with regard to all unresolved questions.

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