Madam President,

As Switzerland takes the floor for the first time this month in its national capacity, I would like to express our gratitude to the United States delegation for guiding the Council through the month of August and to assure you, Madam President, of our full support for your presidency.

Ten years ago, Syria acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention. This accession came – as the High Representative just reminded us, and I would like to thank her for her briefing - a few weeks after the large-scale use of such weapons in the suburbs of Damascus, also against civilians, including children. This was one of the most devastating instances of the use of chemical weapons.

Over the last ten years, the obligations arising from the Convention have been violated on several occasions, and some 25 chemical attacks documented by the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have taken place in Syria. The missions and mechanisms of these organisations have concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that nine of these attacks are attributable to the Syrian government.

Among its obligations as a State Party to the Convention, Syria must provide full cooperation to the OPCW. The Security Council unanimously reaffirmed this obligation in Resolution 2118, also adopted ten years ago.

As the High Representative has just pointed out, despite recent contacts, notably in Beirut last June, the OPCW’s Declaration Assessment Team is still waiting to be able to completely deploy its staff to Syria and to organise the 25th round of consultations with the Syrian authorities.

Switzerland calls for these consultations to be held as soon as possible. We also call on Syria to provide answers to the twenty points left unresolved in its initial declaration. These answers are one of the conditions for Syria to regain its rights and privileges as a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Providing these answers also constitutes an obligation to this Council.

Madam President,

Switzerland would like to reiterate its full confidence in the OPCW and its support for all its missions. Their work is fundamental, and their integrity and professionalism are beyond doubt.

Since the adoption of Resolution 2118, the regular meetings of this Council have served as a reminder of a central issue: to prevent the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons, and to ensure their transfer and destruction.

Switzerland thus calls on all parties to the conflict to refrain from using such weapons and to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.

Adopted ten years ago, Resolution 2118 reminds us that “those individuals responsible for the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic should be held accountable”. Their impunity remains unacceptable today.

Thank you.