Mr. President,

Allow me first of all to congratulate Guyana on the work accomplished during the month of February and to assure you, Mr. President, and your team of our full support for your presidency.

I would like to thank the Deputy High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Mr. Abijei Ebo, for his presentation.

For over a decade, obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention have been repeatedly violated in Syria. A year after the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – OPCW – published a report on the deadly April 2018 attack in Douma, further damning facts are brought to the attention of this Council.

The OPCW Investigation and Identification Team's fourth report, published on February 22, concludes that "there are reasonable grounds to believe" that Daech units used mustard gas in a series of attacks to capture the northern town of Marea on the morning of September 1, 2015.

This chemical weapon, whose use is proscribed by international law, inflicts severe chemical burns to eyes, skin and mucous membranes. At least eleven people are said to have suffered such symptoms in these attacks orchestrated, according to the OPCW report, by Daech's highest level of command.

Switzerland has full confidence in the OPCW. It salutes the meticulous work, professionalism and integrity of the Investigation and Identification Team. Establishing the facts is crucial to ensuring accountability and preventing future attacks.

In this case, the fact that a non-state actor has been designated by the OPCW underlines the need for member states of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to take action against the transfer of chemical weapons goods to illegal recipients. Switzerland supported a decision to this effect at the last OPCW Conference of States Parties in November 2023.

We also welcome the recent 26th round of consultations between the OPCW's Declaration Assessment Team (DAT) and the Syrian government. We call on Syria to continue its cooperation with the OPCW. The provision of conclusive answers to the points that remain unresolved in relation to Syria's initial declaration is one of the conditions for it to regain its rights and privileges as a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Providing these answers on the basis of verifiable, tangible and scientifically plausible explanations also constitutes an obligation to this Council.

Mr. President,

Switzerland condemns the use of chemical weapons and calls on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.

Adopted twelve years ago, resolution 2118 reflects the firm conviction of the Security Council and the international community that "those responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria must be held accountable".

In this respect, we welcome the formal cooperation between the OPCW and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria.

The fight against impunity must contribute to ensuring that chemical weapons are never used again – by anyone, at any time and in any circumstances – in Syria or anywhere else in the world.

Thank you.

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