Earlier today, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2235 establishing a Joint Investigative Mechanism to look into the use of chemical weapons, including chlorine gas, during the Syrian conflict. Following months of negotiations between the United States and Russia, this Resolution is the first UN Security Council mandate to assign blame for the violation of international law in Syria. According to a statement issued by the United Nations, “Holding the perpetrators of the toxic chemical attacks accountable may hopefully alleviate the prolonged suffering of the Syrian people.”
Today’s Resolution is the second regarding chemical weapon use in Syria. The first was Resolution 2118 passed last summer, in which the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was mandated with the safe destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. Since then, however, reports of the indiscriminate use of chlorine gas against civilians has remained widespread. Resolution 2235 calls on Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to work with the Director-General of the OPCW to establish a Joint Investigative Mechanism, which will then regularly report to the UN Security Council and determine the individuals and groups responsible.
The Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC) welcomes this long overdue Resolution, but expresses concern that the Resolution’s language does not call for accountability in strong enough terms. A commitment to refer the case to the International Criminal Court or to establish a tribunal to prosecute the perpetrators would have sent a much stronger signal that the international community stands firmly on the side of the victims.
For more information and to provide feedback, please email SJAC at [email protected].