EOV in the First Committee on Resolution L.26, “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Us

Ambassador Robert Wood
U.S. Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament
New York City
November 2, 2017

AS DELIVERED

Mr. Chairman, I have asked for the floor on behalf of Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and my own delegation, the United States of America, to explain our vote on Resolution A/C.1/72/L.26,“Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction,” sponsored by Poland.

Mr. Chairman, our respective countries intend to vote in favor of this resolution as we believe it accurately reflects the objectives and goals of the Chemical Weapons Convention, CWC, and supports the extraordinary work done by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, OPCW, and the United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, JIM, team to attribute responsibility for the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Equally important, this resolution highlights the grave reality of chemical weapons use in Syria and underscores the need to hold those responsible to account. We express our deepest appreciation to the brave women and men of the JIM, the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission, FFM, and the OPCW Declaration Assessment Team, DAT, for their dedication and professionalism in investigating chemical weapons attacks in Syria and seeking to resolve the gaps, inconsistencies, and discrepancies in Syria’s declaration.

Mr. Chairman, we believe there is no greater challenge to the CWC than a State Party using chemical weapons in flagrant violation of its legal commitments. The international community must condemn such use and hold those who use chemical weapons accountable. The use of chemical weapons by anyone anywhere is a threat to all of us, everywhere. On October 26, 2017, the JIM released its 7th report which determined that the Syrian Arab Republic used chemical weapons, sarin, on April 4, 2017 in Khan Shaykhoun, Syria. This use of CW by the Syrian regime is reprehensible and violates its obligations under the CWC and UN Security Council Resolution 2118. These findings make clear that Syria has not renounced chemical warfare. These findings further underscore the risks posed by Syria’s failure to declare the true magnitude and scope of its chemical weapons program and arsenals. The international community must squarely confront this reality and hold Syria accountable for its continued use of chemical weapons.

We also condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons (sulfur mustard) by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, on September 15 and 16, 2016 in Um-Housh, Syria, in flagrant disregard of well-established international standards and norms. The use of chemical weapons by a State or non-state actor is inexcusable; and we demand that the Syrian government and ISIL immediately desist from any further use of chemical weapons.

We fully support the extension of the JIM to continue investigating additional cases of confirmed use or likely use determined by the OPCW FFM, and further support efforts by the OPCW Declaration Assessment Team to address the gaps and discrepancies in Syria’s CWC declaration.

Mr. Chairman, the events of this past year, including the continued use of chemical weapons in Syria, and the use of the nerve agent VX in a fatal incident at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, make it clear that the international community must do more to preserve the integrity and viability of the CWC and the international laws, norms, and standards against the use of chemical weapons.

Any effort to ignore these aforementioned serious issues undermines the work of the international community to date, detracts from the extraordinary efforts undertaken by the OPCW and the UN, and constitutes a grave challenge to the CWC and the entire international legal framework. We must continue to collectively condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons by any State or non-State actor, and to hold all those who would use such weapons accountable. Anything less would be utterly irresponsible.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.