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UN Report on Chemical Attack in Syria

United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons
in the Syrian Arab Republic


Report on the Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in the Ghouta Area of Damascus
on 21 August 2013

Note by the Secretary-General


1.In transmitting simultaneously to the Security Council and the General Assembly the
report on the incident which took place on 21 August 2013 in the Ghouta area of
Damascus (see annex), the Secretary-General expresses his profound shock and regret at
the conclusion that chemical weapons were used on a relatively large scale, resulting in
numerous casualties, particularly among civilians and including many children. The
Secretary-General condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons
and believes that this act is a war crime and grave violation of the 1925 Protocol for the
Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of
Bacteriological Methods of Warfare and other relevant rules of customary international
law. The international community has a moral responsibility to hold accountable those
responsible and for ensuring that chemical weapons can never re-emerge as an instrument
of warfare.

2.The Secretary-General wishes to express his deep appreciation to the Head and
members of the Mission, including the dedicated teams of experts from the Organisation
for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the World Health Organization. The
Secretary-General is grateful for the support provided by Member States. The Secretary-
General counts on the continued support of all concerned until the Mission completes its
investigation into all other allegations and submits its final report.

3.The accession of the Syrian Arab Republic on 14 September 2013 to the Convention on
the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical
Weapons and on their Destruction is a welcome development. As depositary of the
Convention, the Secretary-General has long called for its universality. The Secretary-
General welcomes the agreement reached on 14 September 2013 between the Russian
Federation and the United States of America on a framework for the elimination of
chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic. He hopes that the Executive Council of
the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations
Security Council quickly move to consider and implement this proposal, which is aimed
at expediting the fufillment of the obligations of the Syrian Arab Republic under the
Convention. The Secretary-General calls upon the Syrian Arab Republic to implement
faithfully all of its disarmament obligations and he stands ready to facilitate international
efforts aimed at providing assistance in this regard.

4.The Secretary-General reiterates that any use of chemical weapons by anyone under
any circumstances is a grave violation of international law.

5.Where there are allegations of the use of chemical weapons, however, the international
community looks to the United Nations for an impartial and objective determination
whether, and to what extent, such allegations can be substantiated. It is imperative
therefore that the authority extended to the Secretary-General by the General Assembly
(A/RES/42/37 C) and endorsed by the Security Council (S/RES/620 (1988)) continues to
be respected and that the mechanism related thereto continues to be strengthened. The
Secretary-General believes that an effective mechanism to investigate allegations of the
use of chemical weapons can serve as an important deterrent against their employment.

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