OPCW confirms chemical weapons use by the Syrian regime

The first report of the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), released on 8 April, confirms the tragic findings of previous independent inquiries. The Syrian regime does not hesitate to use chemical weapons against its own civilian population, including those being treated in hospitals. No amount of disinformation can obscure this fact.

These war crimes should not be allowed to continue with impunity. The report of the IIT is an important step in the direction of accountability, which in turn will be instrumental in preventing future use of these horrendous weapons. As current member of the UN Security Council and as future member of the Executive Council of OPCW, Belgium will play its part in this endeavor.

In 2015, at the centennial commemoration of the first wide scale use of chemical weapons in Ieper during World War I, all States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention condemned any use of chemical weapons. They agreed that such act violates the international legal norms and that those responsible for the use of chemical weapons should be held accountable. This pledge should be put into practice, in Syria and elsewhere.

The fight against impunity has been at the heart of Belgium’s action for many years. The use of chemical weapons in international conflict is a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court since its inception. In 2010, Belgium successfully proposed an amendment to make the use of chemical weapons in internal conflict punishable as war crime to the same extent. We call on all States parties who have not yet done so, to ratify this amendment in order to strengthen the international capacity to fight impunity.