UN Investigation Team Returns to The Hague from Syria

Monday, 02 September 2013

OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü greets Dr Åke Sellström, head of the UN Inspection Team to Syria, upon the team's return to The Hague. Photo: Henry Arvidsson

The United Nations team investigating allegations of use of chemical weapons in Syria has arrived on 31 August in The Hague, the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), after having completed their two week deployment in Syria.
 
The UN investigation team, consisting of nine OPCW, three WHO experts and led by Dr Åke Sellström reached Damascus on 18 August. As per the agreement reached between the UN and the Syrian authorities, they were to conduct investigations where chemical weapons had allegedly been used, including Khan Al-Asal.

While conducting planned activities, further allegations of the use of chemical weapons emerged after an attack in the suburbs of Damascus on 21 August. The UN Secretary-General asked the team to shift its focus on to the new allegations.

On 26 August the team convoy while crossing the buffer zone between government and opposition forces, en route to Al-Moadamiya town, where chemical weapons were alleged to have been used came under attack and two of the vehicles were damaged. The team changed one of the vehicles and continued with the mission. Team members visited hospitals, interviewed doctors and suspected victims of the alleged chemical weapons attack. This team, which included six OPCW experts, returned safely to its base that evening.

The OPCW Director-General condemned the attack, and called upon all concerned parties in Syria to respect the mandate of the team and to facilitate the conduct of its work in safe conditions. This was reiterated by the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon and Director-General Üzümcü when they met in The Hague on 28 August 2013.

The team continued its investigations in the suburbs of Damascus through the week of 26 August visiting allegedly affected areas. They collected both environmental and biological samples.

The evidence collected by the team will now undergo laboratory analysis and technical evaluation according to the established and recognised procedures and standards. Every effort will be made to expedite this process. Their report will be submitted to the United Nations Secretary General by Dr Sellström.

The Chemical Weapons Convention adhered to by 189 countries of the world represents today a global norm with zero tolerance for chemical weapons. For States that are not Parties, procedures are provided under the UN Secretary-General’s Mechanism to investigate allegations of use of chemical weapons. The present investigation in Syria is proceeding under this mechanism. The Convention and the related arrangements between the UN and the OPCW establish the basis for cooperation between the two Organisations recognising that the latter possesses the necessary expertise to investigate allegations of use.

The Director-General of the OPCW, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü has commended the members of the team upon on their arrival back in The Hague for their courage, professionalism and their commitment in carrying out their assigned duties in difficult and sometimes dangerous circumstances. He also thanked the German government for providing an aircraft to transport the team to The Netherlands.


Categories: OPCW and the UN, Syria

For further information, please contact Peter Sawczak, Acting Head, OPCW Media & Public Affairs. Tel: + 31 (0) 70 416 3725 or +31 (0)(0) 6 4681 2954 or media@opcw.org | ORGANISATION FOR THE PROHIBITION OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS, Johan de Wittlaan 32, 2517 JR The Hague, The Netherlands

More news

Major milestone reached as 90% of global chemical weapon stocks destroyed

OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, today announced that 90% of declared chemical weapons had been verified by the OPCW as destroyed.  This includes stocks of unitary weapons, such as sulfur mustard, and primary...28 May 2015Full story

OPCW Director-General Visits Slovenia

The OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, visited Slovenia from 24-26 May. During his visit, the Director-General met Ms Milojka Kolar Celarc, Minister of Health; Ms Andreja Katič, Minister of Defence; Mr Bogdan Benko,...26 May 2015Full story

Basic Training Course on Assistance and Protection against Chemical Weapons for Arabic-Speaking States Parties held in Algeria

A basic training course on assistance and protection against chemical weapons for Arabic-speaking States Parties was held in Algiers, Algeria from 18 to 22 May 2015. The course was the first to be held in Arabic, and it was...26 May 2015Full story

Visit to OPCW by Senior Civil Servants from Pakistan

The Director-General received a delegation from the National Management College of Pakistan yesterday at OPCW Headquarters in The Hague. The delegation was led by the Dean of the College, Mr Naeem Aslam, and included senior civil...20 May 2015Full story

World Class The Hague Meets with OPCW Director-General

During an event at OPCW Headquarters on 12 May, Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü delivered a lecture to over 100 international students on the objectives, activities and challenges facing the OPCW. Following the lecture, Ambassador...19 May 2015Full story

The 7th Analytical Chemistry Course under the Programme to Strengthen Cooperation with Africa

The OPCW and Protechnik Laboratories co-organised an Analytical Chemistry Course (ACC) for African Member States in Pretoria, South Africa from 4 to 15 May 2015. This course is held yearly since 2009 and is modelled along the...18 May 2015Full story

H.E. Mr Juan José Quintana Aranguren (Colombia)

H.E. Mr Juan José Quintana Aranguren, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the OPCW presented his credentials to the Director-General on Monday 18 May 2015.18 May 2015Full story

H.E. Mr. Emilian Brenici (Moldova)

H.E. Mr. Emilian Brenici, Permanent Representative of Moldova to the OPCW, presented his credentials to the Director-General on Tuesday, 12 May 2015.12 May 2015Full story

Regional Meeting in Beijing on Education and Outreach for States Parties in Asia

The Deputy Director-General of the OPCW, Ambassador Grace Asirwatham, jointly with the Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, H.E. Mr. Liu Jianchao, opened the Regional Meeting on Education and Outreach for States...08 May 2015Full story

H.E Mr Carmelo Nvono Ncá (Equatorial Guinea)

H.E Mr Carmelo Nvono Ncá   the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea to the OPCW, presented his credentials to the Director-General on 8 May 2015. 08 May 2015Full story

Displaying 1 to 10 of 1515
<< First < Previous 1-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 51-60 61-70 Next > Last >>

OPCW news by e-mail

Subscribe

Are you subscribed already and wish to unsubscribe or update your profile?