I would first like to thank the Deputy High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Mr Ebo, for his presentation.
Switzerland considers the Chemical Weapons Convention to be an important pillar of our collective security. Ratified by almost all States, including Syria in 2013, this Convention offers protection against the threats and devastating effects of chemical weapons. Switzerland was very pleased to learn of the announcement by the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that the last stocks of declared chemical weapons were completely destroyed. This is a historic step for multilateralism and disarmament efforts.
However, we regret that the Member States of the OPCW were unable to reach a consensus on the final document at the 5th Review Conference of the Convention in The Hague on 15-19 May. However, the conference showed that there is consensus on many issues and that the vast majority of delegations consider that the issue of chemical weapons in Syria remains a central challenge for the full implementation of the Convention.
With this in mind, I would like to reaffirm once again my country’s full confidence in the OPCW as the principal guardian of the Convention. There is no doubt about the integrity and professionalism of the OPCW and all its missions, including those of the Investigation and Identification Team.
We therefore look forward to receiving the report following the visit to Syria from 12 to 19 April by a small team from the Declaration Assessment Team, and the results of the sample analyses currently being conducted in OPCW-designated laboratories. We welcome the holding of a meeting between the OPCW and Syria on 22 and 23 June in Beirut. We also note the ongoing exchanges between the OPCW and Syria with a view to a possible resumption of consultations between the Declaration Assessment Team and the Syrian National Authority and hope that these efforts will be successful in the very near future.
The obstacles posed by Syria to the restoration of full cooperation with the OPCW represent a serious breach of the obligations contained in Resolution 2118 of this Council. Syria must provide immediate and unimpeded access to OPCW personnel and provide answers to the twenty outstanding issues identified by the OPCW Technical Secretariat.
The reports of the OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team have concluded that there has been repeated use of chemical weapons causing numerous casualties in Syria, including children. The use of such weapons is prohibited in all circumstances and, in armed conflicts, constitutes a war crime.
It is essential that such crimes do not go unpunished and that those responsible are identified, prosecuted and punished. To this end, we welcome the formal cooperation between the OPCW and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria. It is an important step towards implementing resolution 2118 of this Council and ensuring compliance with the relevant international law.