UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] on Saturday praised the Syrian government's formal agreement to sign and abide by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) [text, PDF; OPCD backgrounder]. CWC signatories must agree to "chemically disarm" by destroying chemical weapon stockpiles and creating enforcement mechanisms to ensure that chemical weapons will not be produced, acquired or transferred within their jurisdiction. Signatories must also agree to allow other member states "anytime, anywhere" inspection-power without the right to refuse. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [BBC profile] announced Syria's formal agreement Thursday, stating the CWC will enter into force October 14. Right groups accused [JURIST report] the Syrian government of responsibility for August 21 chemical weapon attacks, which allegedly involved the use of sarin nerve gas. Ban expressed [UN News Centre report] his "fervent hope" that the agreement will prevent futures uses of chemical weapons in Syria.
The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of Assad. The increasingly bloody nature of the conflict has put pressure on the international community to intervene. Syria's main opposition group in August urged the UN [JURIST report] to probe numerous massacres they say were committed during Ramadan by forces loyal to Assad. In July the Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria urged the international community [JURIST report] to bring peace the country. In May UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed concern [JURIST report] regarding reports that described the slaying of entire Syrian families and shelling of communities, as well as the targeted strikes by Syrian armed forces on hospitals and schools. More than 100,000 people have been killed since fighting began between Syrian Government forces and opposition groups seeking to oust Assad. Almost two million have fled to neighboring countries and a further 4 million have been internally displaced. JURIST Guest Columnist Enver Hasani of the University of Prishtina in Kosovo argued in September that regime change in Syria will represent a profound geopolitical shift [JURIST op-ed].