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Syria: UNSC fails to renew investigation on chemical weapons; Italy disappointed

NEW YORK, OCTOBER 24 – The UN Security Council failed today to renew the mandate of a mission that investigates the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Russia cast a veto, while China abstained and Bolivia joined Russia in voting no. Eleven countries voted in favor of the text.

“Italy is disappointed that the UN Security Council did not renew the Joint Investigative Mechanism on Chemical Weapons’ mandate and hopes for unity in this key issue. Chemicals non-proliferation is in everyone’s interest”, the Italian Permanent Representative to the UN Sebastiano Cardi said today after the vote. The resolution would have renewed the UN-OPCW investigative body for one more year. Italy had co-sponsored the draft.

“As the global non-proliferation architecture continues to face extremely serious challenges, the Security Council has the responsibility to uphold the integrity and credibility of these crucial longstanding norms of our collective security, preserving pathways for accountability in case of violations”, Cardi remarked, stressing that the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanisms is a critical tool: “In this respect and Italy fully supported the renewal of its mandate today and continues to support it for the future, hoping that the Security Council will be able to find consensus on such a key issue”. The investigation by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was unanimously created by the 15-member U.N. Security Council in 2015 and renewed in 2016 for another year. Its mandate is due to expire in mid-November. “A timely renewal – the Italian Ambassador said – would have ensured continuity and predictability to its activities and would have helped retain the crucial know-how developed by the JIM team during this year, a pressing objective, which we continue to share, as new allegations of new incidents continue to emerge”.

Cardi stressed also that, while the result of this vote risks affecting the future of the JIM, “it also projects divisions in the Security Council that frankly should not be there, and we hope it can be overcome, since upholding the chemical non-proliferation regime is in everybody’s interest”.

The JIM is due to report by Oct. 26 on who was responsible for an attack on April 4 on the town of Khan Sheikhoun, held by the opposition to Syrian president Bashar Al Assad, that killed dozens of people. Russia wanted to discuss the report before voting on the extension of the mandate, and its U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia unsuccessfully asked to postpone the vote.

“Italy looks forward to JIM’s final report on the events in Khan Shaykhun as well as in Um Housh, confident that the report will confirm JIM’s impartiality, objectivity and independence, we hope that the Council will be able to find again its unity in the coming weeks on such crucial issues for our collective security”, Cardi said: “Fighting impunity, identifying the perpetrators and holding them accountable must be a shared priority of this Council, one that unifies us instead of dividing us”. (@OnuItalia)



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