Syria and the OPCW

The OPCW is following the recent media reports and other published information on developments in Syria. Syria reportedly possesses significant stockpiles of chemical weapons, including highly lethal nerve agents. However, without conducting physical inspections and investigations, the OPCW cannot speculate or comment on the veracity of those reports. Nevertheless, the OPCW is unreservedly concerned about the existence of chemical weapons of any sort and anywhere in the world thus it will continue to follow developments in Syria.

Syria is not a Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and hence is not legally committed to the Convention’s prohibitions against the development, production, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons. Therefore, the OPCW currently has no legal mandate to conduct inspections in the country to verify the possible existence of chemical weapons or related activities.

Conversely, Syria is a party to the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which bans the use of chemical and bacteriological methods of warfare. It ratified the Protocol in 1968 without reservations, except for the proviso that the protocol did not represent recognition of Israel. Thus, Syria has formally renounced both first and retaliatory use of chemical or biological weapons against any State.

The OPCW has made representations to Syria over the years to encourage her to join the Treaty, which have never produced an official response. Even so the OPCW remains available at all times to engage with the Syrian government and provide technical assistance for Syria to join the Convention.
 
Although not a United Nations (UN) organisation, the OPCW has a working relationship with the UN. For instance, if requested to do so by the UN Secretary-General, the OPCW has a mandate in accordance with paragraph 27 of Part XI of the Verification Annex of the Convention for closely cooperating with the UN, by placing its resources at the disposal of the Secretary General to conduct an investigation of alleged use of chemical weapons in a State not Party to the CWC.