UN gives ap­proval to res­o­lu­tion on Syria chem­i­cal weapon use


The U. N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil unan­i­mously adopted a res­o­lu­tion Fri­day aimed at iden­ti­fy­ing those re­spon­si­ble for us­ing chlo­rine and other chem­i­cal weapons in at­tacks in Syria that have killed and in­jured a grow­ing num­ber of civil­ians over the past two years.

The res­o­lu­tion, ne­go­ti­ated pri­mar­ily by the United States and Rus­sia, es­tab­lishes an in­ter­na­tional in­ves­tiga­tive body that would as­sign blame for any chem­i­cal weapons at­tacks dur­ing the Syr­ian con­flict, now in its fifth year, so that the per­pe­tra­tors can be brought to jus­tice.

A chem­i­cal weapon at­tack on a Damascus sub­urb killed hun­dreds of civil­ians on Aug. 21, 2013 and led the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to de­mand the de­struc­tion of Syria’s chem­i­cal weapons and the equip­ment used to pro­duce them. But there have been nu­mer­ous re­ports of con­tin­u­ing use of chem­i­cals as weapons in Syria since then, es­pe­cially chlo­rine- filled bar­rel bombs.

The Syr­ian gov­ern­ment de­nies us­ing chem­i­cal weapons, a point re­it­er­ated Fri­day by Syria’s U. N. Am­bas­sador Bashar Ja’afari, who blamed “ter­ror­ist” groups.

But the United States and other Western na­tions con­tend Syria’s gov­ern­ment is to blame, es­pe­cially for bar­rel bombs and other toxic agents dropped by he­li­copters, since the op­po­si­tion doesn’t have air­craft.

“Point­ing a fin­ger mat­ters,” U. S. Am­bas­sador Sa­man­tha Power told the coun­cil. “This sends a clear and pow­er­ful mes­sage to all those in­volved in chem­i­cal weapons at­tacks in Syria that the ( new in­ves­tiga­tive body) will iden­tify you if you gas peo­ple.”

But she added that pros­e­cut­ing per­pe­tra­tors will take time be­cause there is still no tri­bunal to in­ves­ti­gate al­leged crimes dur­ing the war in Syria, which has killed at least 250,000 peo­ple since it be­gan in March 2011, ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions.

“When the day comes — and it will come some­day — that we have an ef­fec­tive ac­count­abil­ity mech­a­nism, this ev­i­dence gath­ered by the Joint In­ves­tiga­tive Mech­a­nism, the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of these per­pe­tra­tors, will be­come very, very im­por­tant,” Power said.

While Rus­sia and the United States have failed to agree on a way to end the Syr­ian con­flict, they have agreed on elim­i­nat­ing the coun­try’s chem­i­cal weapons. Fri­day’s vote came just two days af­ter U. S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry and Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov reached agree­ment on the fi­nal text of the res­o­lu­tion.

Power called for the unity that the coun­cil showed Fri­day “to ur­gently find a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion to the Syr­ian cri­sis.”

Rus­sia’s U. N. Am­bas­sador Vi­taly Churkin told re­porters there is “a high pos­si­bil­ity” that the coun­cil will adopt a pres­i­den­tial state­ment early next week en­dors­ing plans by the U. N. spe­cial en­voy to Syria, Staffan de Mis­tura, to hold in­ten­sive talks with all par­ties to the con­flict on key is­sues in­clud­ing a po­lit­i­cal tran­si­tion and fight­ing ter­ror­ism.

“It would be the first ex­clu­sively po­lit­i­cal doc­u­ment on the Syr­ian cri­sis adopted by con­sen­sus,” Churkin said. “It would be another very im­por­tant step on our work­ing to­gether on dif­fi­cult mat­ters.”

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