Statement by Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the UN, at a UN Security Council Briefing on Chemical Weapons in Syria

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March 4, 2024

Mr. President,

I thank Mr. Ebo for his briefing.

The proliferation of chemical weapons constitutes a threat to international peace and security. It continues to require vigilance on the part of this Council.

In the last ten years, we have witnessed a worrying re-emergence of the use of chemical weapons, in particular in Syria. France resolutely supports the work of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to eliminate these weapons, to document cases of use, to identify the perpetrators and to ensure accountability.

France welcomes the latest report by the OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team (IIT), which concludes that Daesh was responsible for the chemical attack perpetrated in Marea on September 1, 2015. The mustard gas dispersed that day affected at least 11 people. This report, the result of considerable investigative work conducted independently and impartially, establishes for the first time the use of chemical weapons by a non-state actor.

France will continue to support the OPCW in its efforts to combat chemical terrorism. In this regard, the existence of a framework for discussions on chemical terrorism within the OPCW constitutes a useful platform for preparing the response of all States to this sort of attack.

France also reaffirms its support for Security Council Resolution 1540, which 20th anniversary we will mark next month. This resolution is an essential instrument for preventing non-state actors from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction.

France condemns any use of chemical weapons, whenever, wherever, in any place, by whomever and under any circumstances – be the perpetrators terrorist groups, or States violating international commitments.

In this regards, let’s remember that the three previous reports of the Investigative Team had demonstrated the responsibility of the Syrian regime in chemical attacks committed in Latamné in 2017, in Saraqib and in Douma in 2018.

The Syrian regime has used chemical weapons against its own population, including after it joined the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in 2013, and after this Council unanimously adopted resolution 2118. Since then, the Syrian regime should have renounced the use of these weapons and proceded to the total destruction of its stockpiles.

Syria has not answered the remaining questions on the status of its chemical weapons stockpiles. In his latest report, the Director General of the OPCW once again points out that the declaration by the Syrian authorities still cannot be considered as exact and complete, under the requirements of the Convention.

France once again calls upon Syria to fully cooperate with the OPCW, and to comply with its obligations under the Convention. This is the condition for Syria to regain its rights and privileges as a State Party, which were suspended in 2021.

France remains fully committed to the fight for the complete elimination of chemical weapons. It will continue to work with its partners and the OPCW to ensure that the use of these inhuman weapons does not go unpunished.

Thank you.

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