UK Envoy to UN: Syria use of chemical weapons breaches rules

UK Envoy to UN: Syria use of chemical weapons breaches rules
2 min read
03 September, 2021
Barbara Woodward, UK envoy to the UN released a statement expressing concerns over Syria’s breach of international obligations to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Barbara Woodward, UK envoy to the UN, has stressed concerns over Syria breaking international rules on the use of chemical weapons [Getty]

Ambassador Barbara Woodward, the UK envoy to the United Nations (UN), stressed concerns over Syria’s breach of obligations in using chemical weapons throughout the Syrian conflict in a statement at a Security Council briefing on Thursday. 

Following this month's report from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) “there are further signs of Syria’s failure to cooperate fully with the OPCW and its personnel”, Woodward said. 

“We note with concern, for instance, that Syria has agreed only a three-month extension of the Tripartite Agreement with UNOPS and the OPCW, rather than the nine months requested, significantly impacting its ability to conduct its mandated activity."

"The Tripartite Agreement is often held up by Council members as evidence of Syria’s alleged cooperation. This is actually evidence of Syria’s failure to cooperate fully”, Woodward added. 

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On 4 August, Woodward gave a similar statement to the Security Council urging Syria to cooperate fully with OPCW - which bans the use of chemical weapons in war - after the country had denied visas to OPCW personnel and members from the Declaration Assessment Team.

Syria joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013 but attacks by Bashar al-Assad’s regime have taken place since, including the use of nerve agents, sarin and sulfur mustard gas on Syrian civilians.

The UN reported on 4 February 2018 that a Syrian air force helicopter dropped a cylinder on the city of Saraqib that released chlorine over the area and affected at least 12 people.  

Woodward concluded by expressing her dissatisfaction regarding efforts of the meeting being used to question the OPCW’s “scientific, technical and independent findings”. Such questions, she said, are undermining the Chemical Weapons Convention and they “[seek] to divert attention from the Assad regime’s well-evidenced use of chemical weapons”.