Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Chemical Weapons in Syria

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Acting Deputy Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
July 11, 2023


Thank you, Madam President, and I thank Mr. Ebo for his briefing this morning and for the continuing efforts of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on this important issue.

As we meet again to discuss Syria’s numerous, brazen violations of the Chemical Weapons Convention and UN Security Council Resolutions, we are reminded of the many lives the Assad regime has taken through its chemical weapons attacks – attacks that have been well documented in the OPCW’s reports. And we are reminded of the sheer length of time we have worked to address this issue and seek accountability.

We are approaching the 10-year mark since Syria acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention, yet Syria continues to hide details of its chemical weapons program. It blatantly disregards its obligations under Security Council Resolution 2118 and remains in violation of the convention.

The United States condemns in the strongest terms the Syrian regime’s repeated use of these horrific weapons, as documented most recently in the OPCW’s January 27, 2023, report that attributed the use of chemical weapons to the Assad regime during the April 7, 2018, attack on Douma.

Syria may wish to delay and obstruct efforts to address its noncompliance and avoid accountability, in hopes it can do so long enough that international community will lose interest. But we are committed to working with our partners to make sure this does not happen. We were successful in this effort at the recently concluded Fifth Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention in The Hague.

While the Assad regime and its enablers sought to ignore or undermine the legitimacy of the OPCW’s efforts on Syria – including the work of the organization’s Declaration Assessment Team, Fact Finding Mission, and Investigation and Identification Team – we worked with a broad coalition of partners during the Review Conference to stand firm in refusing to accept anything that would undermine those efforts. And indeed, the critical work of the OPCW on this file will continue.

It remains quite clear, including through the proceedings of the Review Conference, the Assad regime and its enablers are on the wrong side of history and will be judged accordingly.

This issue will continue to demand our attention at the OPCW and in the Security Council until Syria fully declares its chemical weapons program and completely and verifiably destroys its stockpiles and production facilities, and until there is accountability for the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and justice for the victims of these attacks.

Anything less than Syria’s full compliance is a threat to the global norm against chemical weapons use and against the very purpose of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

We support the work of the COI, the IIIM, and other entities collecting information and evidence that may assist investigations and prosecutions of members of the Assad regime, and of ISIS, who were responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

We also support the efforts of third countries exercising jurisdiction over international crimes committed by former Assad regime officials and Da’esh members. The United States will continue to demand accountability for chemical weapons attacks and are even now pursuing investigations and prosecutions of crimes involving chemical weapons. We ask the members of this Council to join us in such efforts. The stakes are far too dire for us to do less.

Thank you, Madam President.