France condemns chemical attacks in Syria

Syria/Eastern Ghouta – Statement by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs

Paris, 8 April 2018

I condemn with the greatest firmness the continued siege by the Syrian regime of the city of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, and the bombings that have caused a great number of civilian casualties in the last 24 hours, in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.

I would like to express my extreme concern in the light of reports suggesting a further use of particularly violent chemical weapons and my outrage on seeing the images and information passed on by several organizations with witnesses on the ground.

France is working actively to verify the reality and nature of these strikes, in liaison with its allies and the relevant international organizations.

I must underline that the use of chemical weapons is a war crime and a breach of the international non-proliferation regime. As the President of the Republic has stated on several occasions, France will fulfil all its responsibilities in the fight against chemical weapons proliferation. It calls upon the United Nations Security Council to meet as soon as possible to examine the situation in Eastern Ghouta./.

Syria – Chemical weapons – Speech by the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, before the votes on the draft resolutions (excerpts)

New York, 10 April 2018

(…)

Because the threat is an existential one for all of us, the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction must be at the heart of the Security Council’s priorities more than ever. If there’s one area in which the Council has a moral and political responsibility to come together and act, it’s clearly here. If there’s one area in which the Council’s credibility is at stake, where tactical games have no place, it’s clearly here.

There are times when, because what’s essential is at stake, we have no choice other than to act. We cannot allow the chemical weapons non-proliferation regime – and with it, our whole security architecture, as well as the principles and values which form the basis of our action – to crack and crumble before our eyes. Today’s vote is one of those key moments, one of those moments of truth. So, on behalf of France, I urge each member of this Council to be clearly aware of its responsibilities and shoulder them later on, and vote in favour of America’s draft resolution.

Thank you./.

Syria – Chemical weapons – Explanation of the vote by the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations – Security Council

New York, 10 April 2018

Mr President,

After vetoing a draft resolution aimed at enabling full light to be shed on the chemical weapons atrocities, including those which occurred at the weekend, Russia is persisting with a twofold strategy of obstruction and diversion on this issue.

The sole purpose of the text we’ve just voted on was to well and truly muddy the waters. It’s not about disputing the importance of an independent investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons into what happened in Douma on 7 April 2018: that’s essential and it’s already been started.

But the Russian draft that we’ve had to contest didn’t address the challenges posed. Let’s be clear: what we lack, and what Russia persists in refusing, is a really independent and impartial mechanism that can attribute responsibilities in order to prevent impunity. That was the raison d’être of the JIM [Joint Investigation Mechanism], established with Russia’s commitment; we had put in place an essential tool of deterrence for the perpetrators of chemical attacks, and this really is what we’re lacking today.

Let’s make no mistake: declarations are not enough, and the Russian draft is only a smokescreen, far removed from the urgent response this Council should provide. That’s why France voted against this draft, and that’s why the draft was not adopted.

I repeat it today: France will spare no effort to ensure that those responsible for the chemical horrors are identified and punished independently and impartially. What’s at stake is extremely serious, and we won’t stand idly by.

Thank you./.

Published on 14/04/2018

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