From Passchendaele to Syria - Minister Reynders calls for a renewal of the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism

The Armistice, which marked the end of the First World War, is being celebrated this 11th of November. Today is also the last day of the commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele. It was during this tragic battle, on Belgian soil, that chemical weapons were used for the first time on a large scale. Unfortunately, the use of chemical weapons still does not belong to the past.

The Peace Prize of the City of Ypres will be officially handed over today to the White Helmets. These volunteers strive to save civilians from the atrocities in Syria, often at the risk of their own lives. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders wishes today to salute their work and their bravery.

The successive reports of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) established by the United Nations and the International Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have shown that the Syrian Army as well as ISIS have repeatedly used chemical weapons against civilians.

The use of chemical weapons is despicable. It is prohibited by international law. It is essential that the perpetrators of these crimes do not go unpunished and that independent investigations on the field can continue unimpeded.

On the occasion of these painful anniversaries and of the awarding of the Peace Prize of the City of Ypres to the White Helmets, Didier Reynders calls the United Nations Security Council to take its responsibilities and to renew the mandate of the JIM which will expire on 17 November.