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Nordic-Baltic statement on the Implementation of UNSCR 2118

28.09.2020  21:30

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Mr Chairman,

I have the honour to be speaking on behalf of Nordic-Baltic countries Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania Norway, Sweden and my own country Denmark.

Mr. Chairman,

The re-emergence of chemical weapons is one of the most urgent threats to international peace and security and has to be dealt with firmly and collectively. Impunity for breaches of the global norm against chemical weapons must not be tolerated.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the recent assassination attempt on Alexei Navalny, who was poisoned in Russia by a military chemical nerve agent of the “Novichok” group. Any use of chemical weapons, under any circumstances, is a clear breach of international law and contrary to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits the use of all chemical weapons. We reiterate our call on Russia, as a matter of urgency, to be fully transparent and to bring those responsible to justice, bearing in mind Russia’s commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention. 

The prohibition on Chemical Weapons continues to be challenged – deliberately, and on the assumption of absence of accountability. But violations of the Convention must have consequences. It is exactly for this reason that a number of essential decisions – as foreseen by the Chemical Weapons Convention – have been taken. 

The use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic led to the establishment of the OPCW Fact Finding Mission and the Joint Investigative Mechanism. Highly professional and competent bodies designed to deal with use of Chemical Weapons. At the same time, it was clear that Syria had not fully declared its Chemical Weapons Programme. To remedy this violation of the Treaty, the OPWC established the Declarations Assessment Team. 

At a special session of the conference of States Parties, it was decided to task the OPCW Technical Secretariat to set up arrangements to identify the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons (CW) in the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR). This was a direct consequence of the Russian veto of the continuation of the JIM. Just as it was beginning to deliver results. 

The Declarations Assessment Team, The Fact-Finding Mission and the Investigation and Identification Team are instrumental in preserving the integrity of our Chemical Weapons Convention and in upholding the global ban on chemical weapons.  

We commend the extraordinary high degree of professionalism of these mechanisms. The quality and competence of the staff is beyond reproach. Their tenacity and courage – working in adverse and sometimes hostile or dangerous situations – is admirable. The impartiality and integrity above questioning. We can only congratulate the OPCW Director-General in having assembled teams of exceptional quality that complements his own efforts and that of the Technical Secretariat in general. 

We firmly reject attempts to discredit or bring into disrepute the OPCW and the work of the Technical Secretariat. Such attempts against the international community’s efforts in securing accountability and preventing use of Chemical Weapons are deeply concerning. 

To us the law is clear. The decisions to set up mechanisms in order to investigate the facts in Syria are in full accordance with the Convention.  The investigations and the assessments by the Fact Finding Mission, by the Declarations and Assessment Team and the Investigative and Identification Teams are well established and beyond any reasonable doubt. We strongly condemn the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Arab Air Force as concluded by the first report of the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team (IIT). The Syrian Arab Republic should return to full compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention in accordance with the clear and verifiable parameters as set up by the Executive Council in its decision of 9 July.

We reiterate our full confidence in the technical expertise, objectivity, impartiality and independence of the OPCW Technical Secretariat and its Investigation and Identification Team.

Mr. Chairman,

This concludes my statement.