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Syria’s chemical weapons remain a threat to international peace and security: UK statement at the UN Security Council

Thank you President, and in this last open briefing on the agenda for this month, let me join others in congratulating you for the manner in which you and your team have conducted your Presidency this month.  However, it is nonetheless important that we are clear: this limited concession does not redress Syria’s long-standing non-compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Syrian regime has consistently blocked the OPCW’s work, refusing visas and insisting on unacceptable conditions.  I would also like to thank Director Ebo, as always, for his detailed briefing and to express gratitude to the Director-General of the OPCW for his 122nd report and to the OPCW more broadly for its ongoing and vital work to uphold the Chemical Weapons Convention.  President, the lack of progress on this file is not a reason to reduce our attention on it. On the contrary, it is the lack of progress that requires this Council to remain seized of the matter. Ten years on from its adoption, the provisions of UNSCR 2118 have not been met. The outstanding issues on Syria’s Declaration are unresolved and independent international investigations have found the Syrian Regime responsible for at least nine chemical weapons attacks on its own people.  We therefore welcome the decision in November of the Chemical Weapons Convention Conference of States Parties. This new decision will strengthen cooperation between States Parties to address the global threat from the Syrian Regime’s non-compliance, in particular by taking concrete steps to stop the transfer of toxic chemicals and the materials needed to produce chemical weapons from entering Syria until it fully complies with its Chemical Weapons Convention obligations. President, the Declaration Assessment Team is of course entitled to full and unfettered access to inspect any and all sites in Syria, not just the limited in-country activities that they have conducted this year. And as Director Ebo briefed, sampling by the Declaration Assessment Team at two sites in April 2023 indicated further issues with Syria’s declaration of its chemical weapons holdings. Not only does this reduce what little faith we had in Syria’s declaration, but it clearly demonstrates Syria’s continuing disregard for the Chemical Weapons Convention and the principles that nearly all of us around this table uphold. President, contrary to the expectations of the Representative of the Russian delegation, the UK welcomes the 25th round of consultations between the OPCW and the Syrian regime that took place last month in Damascus.  We commend the OPCW Declaration and Assessment Team for their hard work to reconcile discrepancies in Syria’s declaration. President, as we have said many times before, the outstanding issues on Syria’s Chemical Weapons Declaration are not academic. They include the whereabouts of hundreds of tonnes of chemical weapons agents and thousands of munitions. Syria’s chemical weapons remain a threat to international peace and security until its chemical weapons programme has been fully and verifiably destroyed. We owe it to the thousands of victims of chemical weapons attacks in Syria and elsewhere to continue our work until Syria’s chemical weapons no longer present a threat to international peace and security.


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