National Statement by Sweden at the Security Council Briefing on Syria
National Statement by Sweden, Ambassador Olof Skoog, at the briefing on Syria (chemical weapons). Wednesday, 5 April, 2017, New York.
Sweden joins other members of the Council in condemning the monstrous and cowardly attacks reported to have been carried out with chemical weapons yesterday on the people of Idlib. The pictures emerging from Idlib are truly shocking. We have seen the lifeless bodies of those struck down as they went about their daily lives, and the heartbreaking images of children desperately gasping for air. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those who died and who have been injured. But there is also a sense of outrage.
The attacks on the hospitals that followed are equally appalling.
The use of chemical weapons is illegal and constitutes a threat to international peace and security, and may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity. What happened in Idlib must now be investigated without delay. If the allegations are proven to be correct, then this will be a gruesome addition to the already confirmed cases of the use of chemical weapons and other serious international crimes committed by the Syrian regime. Those responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria must be held accountable, as this Council agreed in resolution 2209.
In light of what we have seen over the last 24 hours, it is important that the Council now shows a united front. We must do all that is necessary to facilitate the important work of the OPCW and the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM). Therefore, Sweden supports the draft resolution put forward this morning by United Kingdom, France and United States.
There is an urgent need for an OPCW Fact-Finding Mission to establish the facts and to report its findings as soon as possible, including to identify those responsible. In order to do so successfully, they must receive the full cooperation of the Syrian authorities.
This attack further underlines the importance of the Council's continued focus on chemical weapon use in Syria. As we have stated before, the Syrian authorities must cooperate fully with the OPCW to allow them to verify the accuracy and completeness of the Syrian chemical weapons declarations. This is critical to addressing the gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies that remain.
We appreciate the work of JIM and we welcome that it will soon be fully operation and we look forward to reports containing more information regarding the four previously identified cases involving Da'esh and the Syrian regime, as well as on new cases, including this most recent attack, to be presented by the OPCW Fact Finding Mission.
To conclude, we will continue our efforts in the Council and elsewhere to ensure that those responsible for the heinous crimes in Syria are held accountable. Sweden has contributed to the JIM, as well as to the Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM), mandated by the General Assembly which is now being set up. The work of the Commission of Inquiry for Syria must continue. Sweden has also actively supported the European Union's recent introduction of targeted sanctions on individuals implicated in the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
The attack in Idlib underlines the importance of this Council's work to end the use of chemical weapons. We cannot shy away from our responsibilities. We must redouble our efforts.