Statement by Sweden at the UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East (Syria)

Published

National Statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East (Syria), 7 November 2017, New York.

Mr President,

At the outset let me thank Ms. Nakamitsu and Mr. Mulet for their briefings today.

I would like to start by reiterating that Sweden unequivocally condemns in the strongest terms the repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria. Chemical weapons use is illegal, constitutes a threat to international peace and security and can amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity. There must be no impunity for chemical weapons attacks.

Mr President,

I welcome the OPCW report on the implementation of resolution 2118. We remain deeply concerned about the fact that the OPCW is still unable to verify Syria's initial declaration on its chemical weapons programme due to a number of serious outstanding issues. We commend the continuing efforts of the Declaration Assessment Team. Full disclosure and pro-active cooperation by the Syrian authorities are urgently required.

We are deeply concerned about the findings of the latest FFM report regarding another sarin attack in the Idlib province, this time in Latamineh on 30 March 2017. We look forward to the JIM's investigation regarding this attack.

Mr. President,

The Joint Investigative Mechanism, set up by this Council unanimously, plays a critical role to protect the international disarmament and non-proliferation architecture. We offer our full support for JIM under its mandate to pursue objective, impartial and independent investigations into chemical weapons attacks in Syria. We count on the professionalism and technical expertise represented in the JIM and the thorough forensic analysis they perform. We have provided financial support and technical expertise to the JIM to carry out its important work.

We thank Mr. Mulet and his team for their efforts and for their latest report on the chemical weapons attacks in Um-Housh and Khan Sheikhoun.

These were abhorrent and unacceptable attacks adding to the number of cases of international crimes committed in this conflict by Da'esh and by the Syrian regime. Particularly repugnant is the sarin attacks in the Idlib province, causing large numbers of casualties, including children and aid workers. The presence of military grade sarin indicates that all stockpiles of sarin precursors in Syria have not been shipped out or destroyed in 2014, as was foreseen.

Mr President,

The Mechanism has done thorough work, with all the research and corroboration necessary, as outlined in the report. On this basis it has concluded that Da'esh was responsible for the attack in Um-Housh in September 2016, and the Syrian regime for the attack in Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017.

With regard to the attack in Khan Sheikhoun, the Mechanism has argued that the only one of the eight reviewed possible scenarios which could sustain detailed technical scrutiny, using scientific and forensic techniques, is that of an air bomb delivered by the Syrian Arab Armed Forces.

We note that, beyond the government and terrorist group responsible, it has not been possible to provide further information on the individuals or entities who were perpetrators, organisers, sponsors or otherwise involved in the attacks, or exactly from where the attacks originated. Our own assessment of the JIM's report with regard to technical and scientific aspects is still on-going.

Mr President,

Finally, let me turn briefly to the matter of the extension of the mandate of the JIM. All members of this Council have pledged support for its objective. As we stated at our last meeting, the JIM needs stability and predictability in order to continue its essential work. It is also important that we avoid the considerable costs that would follow from a time gap in the JIM's mandate.

As the current mandate expires in only ten days, it is key that we unite to ensure a timely renewal. Sweden will continue to do its utmost over the coming days to seek to ensure a continuation of JIM and protect its mandate. We will support all serious and genuine attempts to achieve this objective and we stand ready to help facilitating efforts to find a way forward.

The Syrian people – suffering every day from the brutalities of a conflict that has now lasted more than six years of conflict – deserves no less.

I thank you Mr President.

Contact

Lisa Laskaridis
Head of Press and Communication, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN
Phone +1 212 583 2543
Mobile +1 917 239 0941
email to Lisa Laskaridis