Ban sends Security Council first report of joint UN body probing chemical weapons in Syria

The US Vessel Cape Ray, on which all 581 metric tonnes of a precursor chemical for sarin gas were removed from Syria and safely destroyed as the ship sailed in international waters in 2014. Photo: US Dept. of Transportation

12 February 2016 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has today submitted the Security Council first report of the joint body set up between the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

According to a note issued by the Office of Mr. Ban's Spokesperson, the report provides an overview of the work of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) to date, the sources of information available to the Mechanism and the methodology behind their investigation.

The Secretary-General appreciates the professional, independent, objective and impartial work that is being carried out, says the note, which adds that the Security Council is expected to consider the report on 22 February.

The Mechanism reviewed the incidents where the OPCW Fact-Finding Missions determined that chemicals were used or likely used as weapons in Syria, and identified potential cases for further investigation.

The next phase of the work of the Mechanism will include: the detailed analysis of all information obtained, including from Member States and other sources; the finalization of the list of cases for investigation on the basis of all information obtained; and the conduct of the investigation, including field visits as necessary, in order to identify the individuals, entities, groups or governments who were perpetrators, organizers, sponsors or otherwise involved in the use of chemicals as weapons.

According to the note, this stage will continue until sufficient information and evidence is gathered to allow the Mechanism to report its findings to the Security Council.

The Secretary-General expresses his appreciation to the leadership panel and the staff of the Mechanism, as well as the OPCW and the Office for Disarmament Affairs for their continued support to the Mechanism, as well as to Member States for their assistance to the Mechanism and financial support to its Trust Fund.

Full cooperation from the Syrian Government and all parties in Syria remains essential in the discharge of the Mechanism's mandate, the note concludes.

The joint body, established by the Security Council in August 2015 for a period of one year with a possibility of future extension, is tasked with identifying “individuals, entities, groups, or governments involved in the use of chemicals as weapons, including chlorine or any other toxic chemical,” in Syria, according to the Council, which reiterated that those responsible must be held accountable.

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