Statement by Ambassador Robert A. Wood
Delegation of the United States of America
February 28, 2018
The international community is at a critical juncture in the fight to uphold the international norm against chemical weapons use. Repeated obstruction by some countries at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations has undermined the ability of the international community to hold accountable those who use chemical weapons. I want to thank and commend Ambassador Guitton for France’s leadership in spearheading the “International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons.” No one should think they can use chemical weapons and get away with it.
Sadly, the trend in chemical weapons use by State and non-State actors is increasing, not decreasing. The Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons remains the most serious violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention in the treaty’s twenty-year history. At the same time, the technical pathway to a chemical weapons capability is clearly within the grasp of some non-State actors. Non-State actors in Iraq and Syria are pursuing and using chemical agents, including chlorine and mustard. We also saw the use of the chemical agent VX to assassinate Kim Jong-Nam in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February 2017. We must reverse this rising trend and restore the international norm against chemical weapons use. That starts with accountability.
The “International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons” represents a political commitment by participating countries to hold to account those responsible for the use of chemical weapons. The United States strongly affirms that commitment. While we continue to work at the United Nations to renew the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), we must take every opportunity to deter State and non-State actors from using chemical weapons. As Secretary Tillerson said last month, the partnership “puts those who ordered and carried out chemical weapons attacks on notice,” adding that, “the United States takes chemical weapons threats seriously, and we cannot stand idly by and allow their use to become regularized. We will continue to seek accountability and justice for the victims of that attack.” You have no doubt heard the same message fromAmbassador Haley at the UN Security Council.
We must stand together to hold those who use chemical weapons accountable for their actions. We will use this Partnership to facilitate greater information sharing about chemical weapons use, including sanctions information, to collect and preserve such information, and to strengthen the capacity of states to hold responsible parties accountable. Unified condemnation and action are key to upholding the international norm against chemical weapons use. We encourage other countries who wish to join the Partnership and hold those who use chemical weapons accountable to join the Partnership without delay.