33 countries call for giving the OPCW the mandate to attribute responsibility for CW attacks

In response to the continuous use of chemical weapon in Syria and its proliferation in the world, experts and diplomats from 33 countries convened in Paris France on Friday 18 May 2018 called for the establishment of an International mechanism to identify those responsible for chemical weapons use as a step towards bringing them to justice, and vow that governments and perpetrators won’t go unpunished.

The second session of the International Partnership Against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons comes after “the chemical attack that killed several dozen people in Douma on April 7, the publication of the OPCW report on May 15 on a chlorine gas attack in Saraqeb on February 4, 2018, and the use of a chemical weapon on British territory in Salisbury on March 4.” As the invitation from the French ministry for foreign affairs stated.

“We support the call for a special session of the Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention in The Hague next month to work on supporting the Convention and its implementing body, the OPCW. We call on all States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention to support the holding of this meeting and to work together to strengthen the ability of the OPCW to promote the implementation of the Convention, including exploring options for attributing responsibility for chemical weapons attacks.” stated the ministerial declaration issued at the end of the meeting.

A briefing for CSOs was held on the side of the ministerial meeting at the French ministry for  foreign affairs. SCM with a number of international organisations active in the documentation and fighting impunity were invited to the meeting to brief on latest partnership targets, but also to discuss ways of cooperation between civil society organisations in bringing perpetrators to justice and putting an end to the proliferation of use of CW in Syria and the world.

“Our fight is a long one, for which we need all support possible for the efforts of documentation and litigation as the only way to put an end to impunity in chemical attacks that killed dozens, but also in many more horrific crimes committed by conventional and non conventional weapons.” said Maher Samaan, advocacy manager at Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression – SCM.

“We believe establishing a mandate for the OPCW to attribute responsibility is a great step towards establishing justice in syria and fight impunity around the world. To this end, we remain keen pushing towards the establishment of a special international tribunal for the crimes against humanity committed in syria as the logical framework within which all accusation and documentation can be into use to consolidate accountability and establish justice.” Added M. Samaan who represented SCM in the meetings.

The initiative, launched at the beginning of this year by France, focuses on gathering and compiling and sharing all available information on suspects of use chemical weapons; in order that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions.

The partnership also aims to publish systematically names of individuals, entities, groups for their involvement in CW attacks and impose sanctions on them. To this end, France has imposed a six-month asset freeze on several international companies allegedly linked to the Syrian government chemical weapons programme.