An official website of the European Union. See all European Institutions
I am taking the floor on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro, and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and Georgia align themselves with this statement.
The European Union fully supports effective multilateralism and the rules-based international order, with the United Nations at its core. They are indispensable for ensuring the maintenance of international peace and security.
Last week in Geneva, the UN Secretary General made a clear call to uphold the universal prohibition of chemical weapons and condemned chemical weapon attacks, as well as other attacks in violation of international humanitarian law, both deliberate and indiscriminate, against civilian populations, civilian infrastructure, hospitals and schools.
The UN system represents moral authority and international legitimacy in a world where global rules and norms are increasingly being challenged. We continue to emphasise the importance of upholding international institutions, relevant agreements and treaties and ensuring their proper and effective functioning.
While a country that is not complying with its non-proliferation obligations should not be in a position to preside over meetings of the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, we will not allow this to inflict damage on the work of the CD and its subsidiary bodies. We recall that in accordance with rule 9 to the Rules of Procedure, the Presidency of the CD rotates among all its members in alphabetical order. We will continue to respect the rules and procedures of the Conference.
We must all remember that the Syrian regime bears overwhelming responsibility for prolonging the Syrian conflict which has entered its eighth year of continuous and widespread violence with persistent and brutal violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and the confirmed use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime and by Da’esh.
The conflict continues taking civilian lives every day and the Syrian regime is responsible for the catastrophic humanitarian situation and the suffering of the Syrian people. The full-scale civil war has left more than 400 000 people dead. More than 12 million people have now been displaced, including more than 5.6 million refugees hosted in neighbouring countries and 6.6 million displaced inside Syria. Nearly 13.1 million people, almost half of whom are children, urgently need humanitarian assistance and protection inside the country.
The EU reiterates that there can be no military solution to the Syrian conflict. Only a political solution in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 can bring peace to Syria and its people.
We reiterate our strongest condemnation of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Armed Forces in at least four cases, as confirmed by the OPCW/UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM). We also condemn all the cases of chemical weapons use reported by the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) and the International Impartial Investigative Mechanism (IIIM).
We also condemn the use of chemical weapons by Da’esh in at least two cases, as confirmed by the JIM.
We are concerned by continuing reports of the regime's use of chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta and other areas in Syria in recent months, including the devastating chemical attack on Douma, which is a grave breach of international law and an affront to human decency. We express concern over the most recent report of the OPCW’s Fact Finding Mission confirming the likely use of chlorine as a weapon in Saraqib, Syria on 4 February 2018.
90 years after the entry into force of the Geneva Protocol and 25 years after the Chemical Weapons Convention was adopted by this body, we find it deeply shocking that the international community is still confronted with the use of chemical weapons. We condemn in the strongest terms any use of these abhorrent weapons, including the use of any toxic chemicals as weapons, by anyone, be it a State or a non-State actor, anywhere, and under any circumstances. We consider the Chemical Weapons Convention to be a key disarmament and non-proliferation instrument, the integrity and strict implementation of which must be fully guaranteed.
In this context, the EU fully supports the work of the OPCW's Fact Finding Mission to continue investigating reports of chemical weapons use and of the Declaration Assessment Team to continue its work on the gaps and discrepancies of the Syrian declarations until it is satisfied that Syria's chemical weapons programme is fully declared and irreversibly dismantled.
The EU will continue to support the re-establishment of an independent attribution mechanism to ensure accountability for perpetrators of chemical weapon attacks. The use of chemical weapons may amount to a war crime or a crime against humanity. There can be no impunity and those responsible must be held accountable. In this regard, we regret the Russian vetoes on the renewal of the JIM's mandate in November 2017.
The EU is ready to continue work with partners to prevent any further use of chemical weapons and to end impunity for such use. The EU welcomes the efforts conducted within the framework of the Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons in this regard. The EU has imposed restrictive measures on Syrian high-level officials and scientists for their role in the development and use of chemical weapons and will consider further measures, as appropriate.
The EU is also concerned by the fact that Syria remains non-compliant with its Safeguards Agreement under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The EU deplores Syria’s lack of commitment to resolve all outstanding issues in full cooperation with the IAEA and calls on Syria to sign and ratify the Additional Protocol to its NPT Safeguards Agreement without delay.
Against this deplorable background, we consider it highly regrettable that the Syrian regime has to assume the Presidency of the Conference, even for one month. In our view, the Syrian regime does not have the necessary legitimacy to perform this function. During this period, we will focus our activity on bringing forward substantive work in the five subsidiary bodies, two of them being chaired by EU Member States. We will continue to fully participate in those bodies without downgrading the level of representation. We will reject attempts to misuse the CD Presidency for purposes other than technical chairing of Plenary meetings.
 The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.