Foreign Policy News #4 / by Adam

1. Today (13th April 2017) the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) Executive Council consisting of 41 members gathered at its 54th Meeting to discuss the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

One of the main functions of the Executive Council is to discuss any measures to take in cases of non-compliance by a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, in which Syria is a party to.

United States Ambassador to the Executive Council OPCW Kenneth D. Ward said “The Syrian government has shown time and time again it is not willing to stop using chemical weapons...this outrage is abetted by Russia’s continuing efforts to bury the truth and protect the Syrian regime from any consequences for its heinous use of chemical weapons.”

The United States in their full statement condemned the use of chemical weapons, encouraged the OPCW fact finding mission to do its work thoroughly and quickly, and called upon state parties to support the fact finding mission.

Swedish Ambassador Per Holmstrom to the OPCW said “…if allegations are proven correct, this attack will add to other confirmed cases of international crimes committed by the Syrian regime.” He ended his statement with “chemical weapons use in the Syrian conflict must end here.”


2. On the 11th April, the UN Security Council failed to pass draft resolution S/2017/315 on the situation in Syria due to the veto of the permanent member Russia.

The draft resolution was drafted by the UK, US and France calling for specific instruction and access to two bodies, the OPCW FFM (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Fact Finding Mission) and JIM (United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism).

This includes calls for both organisations to be provided full access to relevant locations in Syria, Syria to hand over details of flight plans and flight logs of air operations, including the names of individuals in command of any aircraft, and to provide access to airbases which the fact finding mission find applicable in regards to chemical weapon use.

If Syria does not comply with the terms, the draft resolution mandates the authorisation for use of force under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

The wording of the draft resolution was phrased in a way to say “alleged chemical weapons use” rather than actual confirmed use of chemical weapons. 

The vote consisted of 10 affirmative votes, 3 abstentions (China, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan and 2 vetoes (Russia, Bolivia). According to the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vladimir Safronkov, Russia vetoed the resolution as not doing so would legitimise the US air strike on the Shayrat airbase in Syria.

The draft resolution can be found here: