NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 16 – The Italian Presidency of the Security Council will keep on working with member states to find a solution for the renewal of the mandate of the U.N./OPCW joint inquiry on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, the Italian Ambassador and current president of the Council Sebastiano Cardi said after Russia used its veto power to kill for the 10th time a Security Council action on Syria since the war began in 2011. Moscow blocked a U.S.-drafted resolution to renew an international inquiry into who is to blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria. A Russia-drafted text was also struck down later in the afternoon.
The mandate for the joint inquiry by the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which found the Syrian government used the banned nerve agent sarin in an April 4 attack, expires at midnight Thursday. The Council was convened on Friday for new consultation on Syria with a draft resolution advanced by Japan which would keep the JIM mandate alive for 30 more days. The hope was that Russia would get along, but that didn’t seem to be the case at the end of the consultations.
“We are deeply disappointed for the result of the vote today, as it deprives the international community of a crucial tool to fight impunity in some of the most heinous and unacceptable crimes committed in Syria. The international community is now weaker, and our collective security architecture is shakier, as a result of today’s vote”, the Italian Representative to the UN and current president of the Security Council said after Thursday vote.
Italy had co-sposored the Us-drafted resolution. “This outcome is difficult to accept, this is why we will continue working with the other Council Members on this issue, hopefully starting immediately after this meeting, mindful of its crucial importance for the non-proliferation regime and for the principle of accountability. We hope that collectively we shall be able to return to the positive trend of cooperation and consensus developed in this Council since 2013 on this crucial issue”, Cardi added.
The US Permanent Representative Nikki Haley condemned the Russian veto with strong words: “By using the veto to kill a mechanism in Syria that holds users of chemical weapons accountable, Russia proves they cannot be trusted or credible as we work towards a political solution in Syria”. Haley accused the Russians of having given a green light to chemical weapons attacks, a war crime.
“Russia has killed the Joint Investigative Mechanism, which has overwhelming support of this Council. And by eliminating our ability to identify the attackers, Russia has undermined our ability to deter future attacks. Assad and ISIS will no longer be on notice for the use of chemical weapons by Russia’s actions today. The message to anyone listening is clear: in effect, Russia accepts the use of chemical weapons in Syria.”
On his part, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia dismissed the American indignation, accusing the United States and its partners of seeking to preserve a panel with “extremely systemic flaws.” (@OnuItalia)