Identification of the perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria possible again

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders is pleased with the decision taken on 27 July in The Hague by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to assume the role of investigating the responsibilities for chemical attacks in Syria (read the declaration of the OPCW here).

Until recently, the identification of the perpetrators of chemical attacks was the task of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism. This investigative mechanism succeeded in establishing the responsibilities for at least four chemical attacks by the Syrian regime and at least two by the terrorist group Daesh. In November 2017, the mechanism ceased to exist due to a deadlock in the Security Council and the possibility to identify those responsible was lost. The decision by the OPCW restores the possibility to identify the culprits.

Minister Reynders is also pleased by the fact that the OPCW will be allowed to share information with the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism. This mechanism was set up by the General Assembly of the United Nations in order to lay the basis for criminal prosecution of those guilty of atrocities in Syria.

Didier Reynders reiterates his sharp condemnation of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime and calls for the country to respect its obligations, including as a member of the OPCW.

The fight against the use of chemical weapons is a priority of Belgium’s foreign policy. Belgium condemns any use of chemical weapons regardless of the perpetrator or the circumstances. The use of chemical weapons in an armed conflict is a war crime and must be punished.

Belgium is committed to restoring and strengthening the international consensus on the prohibition of chemical weapons.