PARIS, JANUARY 23 – France announced an initiative on January 23, 2018, called the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons. The new 29-nation group is meant to increase pressure on the Assad regime for the use of chemical weapons, but especially on Russia for protecting the regime from repercussions at the UN Security Council and elsewhere. The Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs Angelino attended the meeting along with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: “Fighting impunity is one of the most pressing challenges of today’s world. It’s a fundamental responsibility”, he said.
By endorsing the declaration of principles, participants in the Partnerships affirmed their desire to fight the use of chemical weapons. To do so, they commit ted to:
- collect, compile and facilitate the sharing of information so that the perpetrators are one day held accountable for their actions;
- publish online on a website the names of individuals and entities involved that have been sanctioned with the clear intention of naming and shaming;
- use all the existing mechanisms, provide all documentation available to identify the perpetrators of the attacks and support multilateral efforts to impose sanctions;
- create an intergovernmental cooperation forum to document the use of chemical weapons, encourage the sharing of information and support a common position;
- help countries in need to build their capacity to prosecute the perpetrators.
Human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch welcomed the initiative with a few caveats: “The French-led initiative to end impunity for illegal chemical attacks in Syria is a step in the right direction. But France and other concerned countries should continue efforts at the UN Security Council to address these atrocities and protect a key international norm despite Russia’s repeated vetoes. Council members should work to ensure that the UN-backed investigation team can resume its job identifying those who used these banned weapons. The absence of such an inquiry sends a dangerous message to anyone considering using chemical weapons against the men, women and children of Syria”, said Louis Charbonneau, United Nations director at Human Rights Watch. (@OnuItalia)