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From: Ambassador Duran

OPCW Fact-Finding Mission in Syria Continues Investigations into Allegations of Chemical Weapons Use


OPCW Fact-Finding Mission in Syria Continues Investigations into Allegations of Chemical Weapons Use

Wednesday, 07 February 2018

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – 7 February 2018 – Recent allegations about the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Aran Republic continue to be of grave concern to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), whose mandate is “to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals … for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic”, is investigating all credible allegations and provides regular reports for consideration by States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). A rigorous methodology is employed for conducting an investigation of alleged use of chemical weapons. The FFM report will take into account corroboration between interviewee testimonies; open-source research; medical reports and other relevant documentation as well as the characteristics of any samples obtained by the FFM. The FFM works closely with States Parties including the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic.

The FFM’s mandate is to determine whether chemical weapons or toxic chemicals as weapons have been used in Syria; it does not include identifying who is responsible for alleged attacks.

OPCW Director General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü reiterated: “Any use of chemical weapons is a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the hard won international norm prohibiting these weapons. Those responsible for their use must be held accountable. These abhorrent weapons have no place in the world today.”


As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 – with its 192 States Parties – it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.

Over ninety-six per cent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor States have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace.

  1. Interpol -Inactive-

    The OPCW is an extremely important verification tool that is vital in ending chemical weapon use. However, one issue I have with what this article is saying is the Fact Finding Mission is only trying to establish whether or not chemical weapons are being used and not who is using them. It is easy to point fingers at the Syrian Government, who is more than likely using these weapons, but the OPCW should also look at other actors involved. For instance, trucks coming from Turkey who had carried chemical weapons used against the Syrian Government should be investigated by the OPCW, as well.
    I also find it interesting that the director general did not discuss how just having possession of chemical weapons is against the CWC. This article does not mention that the OPCW does not have anyone on the ground, currently, in Syria to begin assessing the chemical weapon use. With the OPCW not searching for who is using the chemical weapons and delaying the verification process may impact any attempt to charge President Bashar Al Assad and any other actor using chemical weapons in the ICC. Chemical weapons are a growing concern in Syria and will require more than just the OPCW to solve the situation.

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