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, media@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

First Advisory Board on Education and Outreach Meets as Next Step in Evolution of OPCW

Prominent experts from the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention convened for the first time yesterday as the newly formed Advisory Board for Education and Outreach, in what the Director-General of the Organisation...29 April 2016Full story

Latin American and Caribbean Experts Receive Training in Chemical Safety and Security

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in cooperation with the National Authority of Brazil conducted a practical workshop on chemical safety and security for Latin American and Caribbean experts in São...29 April 2016Full story

OPCW Executive Council Observes Chemical Weapons Destruction Progress at Kizner Facility in Russia

A delegation of representatives from the 41 member Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons praised the pace of destruction activities at the Kizner chemical weapons destruction facility in...29 April 2016Full story

Scientific Advisory Board Provides Expert Advice to the OPCW at its Latest Session

The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) concluded its week-long session at OPCW Headquarters on 22 April, and offered valuable guidance to help the Organisation...28 April 2016Full story

OPCW Director-General and Russian Foreign Minister Hold Productive Talks on the Implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention

OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Mr Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow today. The Director-General and the Foreign Minister discussed a range of issues...26 April 2016Full story

New group of chemical weapons inspectors finish training and stand ready for deployment

A new cohort of recently recruited inspectors is now fully qualified to conduct inspection activities for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and received diplomas at a graduation ceremony today. The...26 April 2016Full story

Media Accreditation Open for Inaugural OPCW Day and Conference on: “Chemical Safety and Security in a Technologically Evolving World”

The Technical Secretariat of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) invites media representatives to accredit themselves for the first celebration and conference marking the International Day for the...25 April 2016Full story

Secretary General of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Visits the OPCW

The Secretary-General of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Wegger Strømmen, today met the Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü at the OPCW Headquarters in The Hague.Mr. Strømmen and the...22 April 2016Full story

OPCW Convenes Inaugural Experts Group Meeting on Green Chemistry

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) hosted the first Expert Group Meeting on Green/Sustainable Chemistry Applications in Industries Involving Toxic Chemicals in The Hague on 15 April 2016. The group...21 April 2016Full story

Continuing Partnership Between the OPCW and UN Highlighted During UN Secretary-General’s Visit to the OPCW

OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü updated the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), H.E. Ban Ki-moon on progress achieved regarding the destruction of chemical weapons and other ongoing activities related to...20 April 2016Full story

Displaying 1 to 10 of 1626
<< 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?