THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 9 July 2020 — The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) Executive Council (EC) adopted by vote a decision addressing the possession and use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Arab Republic.
The Council expressed its deepest sympathies for the victims of chemical weapons use and condemned the use of chemical weapons as reported by the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team (IIT), which concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the Syrian Arab Republic used chemical weapons in Ltamenah, Syria in March 2017.
The decision expresses the deep concern of the Council that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Arab Republic, by direct implication, establishes that the Syrian Arab Republic failed to declare and destroy all of its chemical weapons and chemical weapons production facilities, and demands that the Syrian Arab Republic immediately cease all use of chemical weapons. It also expresses deep concern that the Syrian Arab Republic did not cooperate with, and provide access to, the IIT, as required by United Nations Security Council resolution 2118 (2013), and demands that the Syrian Arab Republic fully cooperate with the OPCW’s Technical Secretariat.
In order to redress the situation and pursuant to paragraph 36 of Article VIII of the Convention, the Council decided to request that the Syrian Arab Republic complete all of the following measures within 90 days:
(a) declare to the Secretariat the facilities where the chemical weapons, including precursors, munitions, and devices, used in the 24, 25, and 30 March 2017 attacks were developed, produced, stockpiled, and operationally stored for delivery;
(b) declare to the Secretariat all of the chemical weapons it currently possesses, including sarin, sarin precursors, and chlorine that is not intended for purposes not prohibited under the Convention, as well as chemical weapons production facilities and other related facilities; and
(c) resolve all of the outstanding issues regarding its initial declaration of its chemical weapons stockpile and programme.
The Council decided that the Director-General, within 100 days, will report to the Council and all States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention on whether the Syrian Arab Republic has completed all of these measures. If the Syrian Arab Republic has not fully completed all of the measures within the specified period of 90 days, the Director-General will report to all regular sessions of the Council on the status of the implementation of this decision. Furthermore, the Council decided, pursuant to paragraph 36 of Article VIII of the Convention, that if the Syrian Arab Republic fails to redress the situation by completing the measures set out in the decision, to recommend to the Conference to adopt a decision at its next session which undertakes appropriate action, pursuant to paragraph 2 of Article XII of the Convention, with respect to the Syrian Arab Republic.
The Council also decided that the Technical Secretariat will conduct inspections twice a year, until the Council decides to cease them, at two sites identified in the IIT report as directly involved in launching chemical weapons attacks—the Shayrat airbase and the Hama airbase of the Syrian Arab Republic.
The Council also reaffirmed that those individuals responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable, and emphasised the importance of bringing to justice those individuals responsible for the uses of chemical weapons found by the IIT to have been perpetrated by the Syrian Arab Republic, including those who ordered such attacks.
The Council decided that the Director-General will regularly report to the Council on the implementation of the decision and provide a copy of this decision and its associated reports to all States Parties and to the United Nations Security Council and United Nations General Assembly through the United Nations Secretary-General.
The Executive Council is the executive organ of the OPCW and consists of 41 members from the five regional groups. The EC is responsible to the 193 members of the Conference of the States Parties. The EC promotes the effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and compliance with it. The EC also supervises the activities of the Technical Secretariat. The Council cooperates with the National Authorities of Member States and facilitates consultations and cooperation among them at their request.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Member States, oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
Over 98% of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor States have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.
- Decision: Addressing the Possession and Use of Chemical Weapons by the Syrian Arab Republic
- First Report by the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) Pursuant to Paragraph 10 of Decision C-SS-4/Dec.3 “Addressing the Threat From Chemical Weapons Use” Ltamenah (Syrian Arab Republic) 24, 25, and 30 March 2017
- Syria and the OPCW