Swedish statement at the UNSC Briefing on Threats of International Peace and Security: the situation in the Middle East

Published

National statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Threats of International Peace and Security: the situation in the Middle East (Syria), 9 April 2018, New York.

Thank you Mr President,

At the outset let me thank Mr. Staffan de Mistura and Mr. Thomas Markram for their briefings today, and to you Mr President for accepting our request for this emergency meeting.

We are dismayed by the general escalation of violence as described by Staffan de Mistura and in clear violation of Security Council Resolutions, including 2401, and I want to plea here with the Syrian authorities - here represented - and with the Astana guarantors to live up to this Council's resolutions.

Mr President,

We asked for this meeting today because over the weekend, we were yet again faced with horrifying allegations of chemical weapons attacks in Syria, this time in Douma just outside Damascus. There are worrying reports of a large number of civilian casualties, including women and children. The graphic material that has been shared is beyond repugnant. We are alarmed by these extremely serious allegations. There must now be an immediate, independent and thorough investigation.

Mr President,

Let me reiterate that Sweden supports all international efforts to combat the use and proliferation of chemical weapons by State or non-State actors anywhere in the world. We unequivocally condemn in the strongest terms the use of chemical weapons, including in Syria. It is a serious violation of international law and it does constitute a threat to international peace and security. Their use in armed conflict is always prohibited and amounts to a war crime. Those responsible must be held accountable. We cannot accept impunity.

Addressing the use of chemical weapons in Syria has become a central test of the credibility of this Council. How we respond to the latest reports from Douma is therefore decisive. Despite the odds, we must put aside our differences and come together. Now is the time to show unity. In our view, the following needs to happen:

Firstly, we must condemn in the strongest terms the continued use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Secondly, our immediate priority must be to investigate the worrying reports from Douma. In this context, we welcome the announcement by the OPCW Director-General that the Fact Finding Mission for Syria – to which we reiterate our full support – is in the process of gathering information from all available sources. We express our hope that the Fact Finding Mission can be urgently deployed to Syria.

Thirdly, all states as well as parties to the conflict, including the Syrian authorities, must fully co-operate with the Fact Finding Mission. What is particularly needed is safe and unhindered access to the site in Douma as well as any information and evidence deemed relevant by the Fact Finding Mission to conduct its independent investigation.

Fourthly, we need to urgently redouble our efforts in the Council to agree on a new independent and impartial attributive mechanism to identify those responsible for chemical weapons use.

And finally, if the allegations of chemical weapons use are indeed confirmed and those responsible are eventually identified, the perpetrators must be held to account.

We are ready, Mr President, to work actively and constructively with others members for urgent Council action. To this end, we have circulated elements as input to our discussions. We must immediately engage in consultations to break the current deadlock and shoulder our responsibility under the UN Charter. We owe this to the many victims of the crimes committed in this conflict.

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