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 OPCW Public Affairs. +31 (0) 70 416 3242, public.affairs@opcw.org | ORGANISATION FOR THE PROHIBITION OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS, Johan de Wittlaan 32, 2517 JR The Hague, The Netherlands

Follow OPCW on Facebook and Twitter.

More news

Latin American and Caribbean Industry Professionals Boost Skills on Chemical Disaster Risk Management

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 4 August 2017 — Chemistry professionals from Latin America and the Caribbean are better equipped to implement the industry-related provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) after a seminar on...04 August 2017Full story

H.E. Ms Christine Weil (Germany)

H.E. Ms Christine Weil, Permanent Representative of Germany to the OPCW, presented her credentials to the Director-General on 2 August 2017.02 August 2017Full story

OPCW Launches 18th Edition of Associate Programme

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – 28 July 2017 – The 18th edition of the Associate Programme, a flagship capacity-building programme of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), commenced today at the Organisation’s...28 July 2017Full story

OPCW Director-General Calls for Ethics to Keep Pace with Technological Progress During Visit to Indonesia

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 28 July 2017 — The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü visited Indonesia on 27 and 28 July where he met with Minister of Foreign...28 July 2017Full story

National Authorities from Africa Review Implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and Region’s Needs

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – 27 July – Representatives of National Authorities from African States Parties convened at the 15th Regional Meeting in Banjul, The Gambia from 18 to 20 July, to review the achievements, explore the...27 July 2017Full story

OPCW Director-General Calls for Ethics in Science During Visit to Australia

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 26 July 2017 — The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, visited Australia on 24 and 25 July. In Canberra, he met with the Secretary...26 July 2017Full story

H.E. Mr Jassim Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani (Qatar)

H.E. Mr Jassim Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of Qatar to the OPCW, presented his credentials to the Director-General on 20 July 2017.20 July 2017Full story

Laboratories in Latin America and Spain Increase Analytical Capacity of Substances Relevant to Chemical Weapons Convention

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 13 July 2017 — Analytical chemists from Latin America, the Caribbean and Spain advanced their skills in the analysis of chemicals controlled under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), at a course...13 July 2017Full story

First Responders from Asia Acquire Keystone Skills in Assistance and Protection against Chemical Weapons

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 10 July 2017 — First responders from Asian countries acquired fundamental knowledge on emergency assistance and protection against chemical weapons at an Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical...10 July 2017Full story

Medical Professionals Acquire Skills in Assistance for Victims of Chemical Emergencies

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – 7 July 2017 – Medical first responders from around the world are better equipped to successfully handle emergency medical assistance for victims of chemical incidents and attacks after a training held in...07 July 2017Full story

Displaying 1 to 10 of 1789
<< First < Previous 1-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 51-60 61-70 Next > Last >>