Statement delivered by Pascale Baeriswyl, Permanent Representative of the Swiss Confederation and President of the Security Council for the Month of May, at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on the situation in the Middle East (Syria Chemical Weapons).

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May 8, 2023

I thank the representative of the United Arab Emirates for her statement and now speak in my national capacity.

I would first like to thank the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Nakamitsu, for her presentation.

Switzerland welcomes the fact that for the second time this year, representatives of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ Declaration Assessment Team were able to visit Syria from 12 to 19 April. This small team conducted limited activities on site, including site visits and technical exchanges with the authorities.

We look forward to receiving the report of this visit. We hope that it will lead to the restoration of full cooperation between Syria and the OPCW. To this end, we reiterate that Syria must provide immediate and unhindered access to OPCW personnel, including the right to inspect all sites.

Syria’s obstruction of the visits of the full Declaration Assessment Team is a serious breach of the obligations contained in Resolution 2118, which was unanimously adopted by this Council. In addition, 20 points of Syria’s initial statement remain outstanding. Syria must provide the necessary answers to the OPCW Technical Secretariat.

Switzerland wishes to reaffirm once again its full confidence in the OPCW and all its missions, including those of the Identification Investigation Team, whose integrity and professionalism are beyond doubt. We welcome the holding of the 5th Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention in The Hague on 15-19 May. This will be an opportunity to strengthen the role of the Convention in the fight against the use and proliferation of these weapons of mass destruction and in disarmament. The adoption by consensus of a joint declaration would send a clear message in this direction.

Switzerland condemns the repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria, as reported by the Fact-Finding mission and the Investigation and Identification Team, which has severely affected civilians, including many children. The use of chemical weapons is prohibited and can, in armed conflict, constitute war crimes.

For the sake of our collective security, it is essential to fight impunity for such crimes by identifying, prosecuting and punishing those responsible. In this regard, we welcome the formal cooperation between the OPCW and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria. It is an important step towards the implementation of Resolution 2118 and compliance with international law.

Thank you.

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