Iraq – Anniversary of the chemical attack in Halabja (16 March 2021)


Thirty-three years ago, from March 16 to 19, 1988, Iraq, led at the time by Saddam Hussein, carried out a chemical weapon attack, massacring its own people in Halabja, in Iraqi Kurdistan. On the anniversary of this tragedy, France resolutely reaffirms its strong opposition to the use of such weapons and reaffirms the need to ensure that the perpetrators of chemical attacks are prosecuted and punished.

France, the depository of the 1925 Protocol on the prohibition of the use in war of chemical or biological weapons, has, since then, been resolutely committed to the fight against chemical weapons and impunity for their use. In the face of the chemical weapon massacre in Halabja, France relaunched the negotiations by the Conference on Disarmament on an instrument to achieve a complete ban. These negotiations led to the signing, in Paris, of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) on January 15, 1993. It also launched the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons in 2018 and continues to lend its full support to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) tasked with implementing the CWC. The use of chemical weapons anywhere at any time, by anyone and in any circumstances, is unacceptable and constitutes a serious violation of international law, under which it is absolutely prohibited.

As the minister had announced during his trip to Erbil on July 17, 2020, France decided to offer its support to the Halabja Hospital, which still treats victims of that chemical attack. As part of this support, the Crisis and Support Center’s director visited the hospital to determine France’s contribution to monitoring and treating victims there, as well as the kind of psychological and social support it would help provide.