Syria – Chemical weapons (17 November 2017)


France is disappointed by the result of the vote on renewing the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) of the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The JIM was established in 2015 by a unanimous decision of the UN Security Council, at the initiative of the United States and Russia. We regret Russia’s veto of the balanced, non-confrontational draft resolution that had been presented. This is the fourth Russian veto on Syrian chemical weapons and the tenth on Syria within this body.

The JIM has been shown to work; it demonstrated its effectiveness and its professionalism in its investigative methods. In this regard, France wishes to applaud the JIM’s competence, unwavering impartiality, and irreproachable conduct since its establishment, as well as that of its current head, Edmond Mulet, and his team. Its report on October 26 unambiguously pointed to the Syrian regime’s responsibility in the attack on Khan Sheikhoun, which killed more than 80 people on April 4, and Daesh’s responsibility in the Um-Housh attack on September 16, 2016.

In addition to these conclusions, the JIM’s earlier reports, in 2016, established the Syrian regime’s responsibility for using chlorine gas as a chemical weapon in at least three attacks in 2014 and 2015, but also that of Daesh in a case where mustard gas was used in 2015. This confirms the Syrian regime’s severe violations of the international commitments it undertook in 2013.

The JIM should be allowed to continue documenting the use of chemical weapons, regardless of who the perpetrators are.

For France, defending this mechanism means preserving the chemical non-proliferation regime, and thus our collective security; safeguarding human rights, as chemical weapons attacks are war crimes; and guaranteeing the truth, as there will be no lasting peace in Syria as long as there is impunity.

France will maintain its commitment to this issue and will continue to act with its partners in New York and The Hague to combat chemical proliferation, but also impunity in Syria and elsewhere.

Q&A - Excerpts from the daily press briefing - 17 November 2017

Q - On Thursday, Russia vetoed a resolution aimed at renewing the mandate of the investigative commission on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. What can France and its allies do to move forward on this issue given Russia’s opposition?

A - I refer you to today’s statement.