Green Cross welcomes UN chemical weapons investigation in Syria

Green Cross welcomes the United Nations investigation into an alleged chemical weapons attack near the Syrian city of Aleppo on 19 March. The reported attack using a SCUD missile armed with an unidentified chemical agent, which opposing sides to the conflict are accusing the other of launching, has raised very serious questions about possible escalation in the ongoing violence in Syria.

Green Cross International, which has worked for two decades now to facilitate the safe and sound elimination of chemical weapons stockpiles, decries any possible use of chemical weapons and calls for the international investigation of these allegations to be thorough, conclusive and carry a strong message that urges a global scrapping of chemical weapons.  Green Cross points out that a similar allegation was made last December when some observers stated that a chemical weapons attack occurred in Homs.

Dr. Paul Walker, director of the Green Cross Security and Sustainability Program, stated:  “With the growing international concern over President Assad’s acknowledged chemical weapons stockpile, including this latest claimed use, it is incumbent on the United Nations to undertake a thorough investigation of the forensic evidence of the use of these outlawed weapons of mass destruction.  This should include an examination of the alleged SCUD missile launch as well as autopsies of the victims of the attack.  Only with more credible evidence, will we be able to draw any conclusions from this incident.”

Syria is one of only eight countries remaining outside of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which now counts 188 countries as member states.  The CWC entered into force in 1997 and bans the development, deployment, stockpiling, and use of any toxic chemical agents in warfare.  It also requires the safe and irreversible elimination of all chemical weapons stockpiles.  The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague oversees the verified destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles declared in seven States Parties, the large majority of which sit in the United States and Russia.

Walker also said “we are pleased to hear the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon call the possible use of any chemical agent ‘outrageous,’” while OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu label such use ‘reprehensible.’  But we have to get to the bottom of these allegations, and the only way to do this is for an international team of inspectors to examine the available evidence.  It’s in the interest of all parties to do this before the conflict escalates and endangers thousands of additional innocent civilians.”

GCI, founded in 1993 by President Mikhail Gorbachev, is an independent non-profit and nongovernmental organization working to address the inter-connected global challenges of security, poverty eradication and environmental degradation through advocacy and local projects. GCI is headquartered in Geneva and has a network of national organizations in around 30 countries.

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