Statement by France on the first report by the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team (IIT)
Luis Vassy Ambassador of France to The Netherlands
Permanent Representation of France to the OPCW
non official translation
We are considering today the first report issued by the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT), the mechanism established to identify the authors of chemical weapons attacks resulting from the adoption of a decision by the Special Conference of States parties to Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) of June 2018, voted by a majority of States parties in compliance with the rules of this multilateral body.
We welcome the publication of this first report, result of a remarkable, precise, impartial and independent work. This report is the first of its kind for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
The Technical Secretariat has now, regarding the incident of Ltamenah, fulfilled the task, with which it was entrusted by we, the CWC States Parties. It will continue its investigations on the six remaining incidents, listed in the document circulated to all States parties in July 2019.
The conclusions of this first report are clear and irrevocable. We now have certainty that the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons in Ltamenah belong to units of the Syrian regime Air Force.
It is now up to us, States Parties to this the Chemical Weapons Convention, to take action.
Allow me to insist on this word, prohibition, as this Convention is about prohibition. Prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and above all, use of chemical weapons.
If we are considering this IIT report today, it is because these weapons, for which we had committed, for the sake of all human kind, and I am here quoting the preamble of the Convention, to exclude completely the possibility of use, have been used.
If we are considering this IIT report today, it is because there have been victims, dead and injured. We owe it to ourselves to act collectively for these victims. They come in addition to all the countless others of this dreadful conflict, where we lament the most serious violations of International Humanitarian Law.
If we are considering this IIT report today, it is because one State Party has lied. If the Syrian regime has continued to use toxic chemicals for military purposes, it is because it has kept the capability to produce and use them, in contravention with its international obligations. We all know it by now: Syria has kept an underground chemical program since 2013.
Those crimes, those lies cannot be without consequence. We owe it to the victims. The Syrian regime must be held accountable for its actions, including in the framework of the CWC, towards other States Parties.
If we are considering this IIT report today, it is because perpetrators have been identified. Perpetrators of the abhorrent acts consisting in the use of chemical weapons must not go unpunished. The OPCW is not a tribunal. Judicial prosecution will take place elsewhere. It is required to deter anyone from continuing using these weapons. One cannot violate an International Convention without consequences. It would encourage others to do so.
As you know, fighting impunity is a political priority for France. We have taken the initiative in January 2018 in proposing an International Partnership against impunity for the use of chemical weapons, which now gathers 40 States and the European Union. We support, as well, international mechanisms fighting impunity established under the auspices of the United Nations.
We must act.I wish that all States Parties will consider this first report of the IIT with seriousness and responsibility and that they will be ready to act, collectively, when the time comes, in order to take the necessary measures to put a final end to the use of chemical weapons and to the impunity of the perpetrators. The end of impunity is one of the conditions of a fair peace. We reiterate our call for initiating at last a political settlement, in accordance with the Security Council resolution 2254, in order to find a honourable and fair way out of the crisis, that the Syrian people deserves.