The UN Security Council [official website] on Tuesday voted not to adopt [UN report] three proposed resolutions that would implement measures to investigate the use of chemical weapons, among other issues, in Syria.
Two drafts were proposed in response to recent reports that chemical weapons were used in Syria.
The US proposal [text] would establish a new investigative mechanism to replace the Organisation for Prevention of Chemical Weapons-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (OPCW) [official website], whose mandate expired [JURIST report] in November after a Russian veto. This proposal would also have the Secretary-General António Guterres make recommendations about the mechanism. However, this draft was rejected by a vote of 12-2-1, including a veto by UNSC permanent member Russia, thereby blocking its adoption. In support of its veto, Russia accused [UN report] the US of attempting to recreate the Joint Investigative Mechanism and implement a mechanism that does not satisfy the standards under the Chemical Weapons Convention [text, PDF].
The other proposal, submitted by Russia, proposed to establish an independent investigative mechanism for one year but would have granted authority to the Security Council to assign accountability for chemical use in Syria. The draft would have also managed the evidence collected and considered valuable in the investigation. Seven no votes resulted in this proposal being rejected, three of which were from permanent members. The UK, opposing of the draft, referred to it as a “distraction” that attempted to assert that “sovereign States were above international law.”
Another Russian proposal, expressing support for the work of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission and condemning any use of chemical weapons in Syria, was also rejected by UNSC. This draft received four votes against with the same permanent members against it. Some members expressed that the draft was simply “unsatisfactory.”
The Council decided to hold [JURIST report] an emergency meeting to address the issues in Syria following reports of the use of chemical weapons in Douma, Syria.
Russia, who aligns [JURIST report] itself with the Assad regime, continues to be an obstacle to passing resolutions proposed in the Council. UN Secretary-General António Guterres [official profile] on Tuesday urged [UN report] the Council to “find unity” in order to ensure those accountable for the use of chemical weapons in Syria are found. Guterres was one of the first UN officials to express concern [JURIST report] over the renewed violence and reports of chemical weapons against civilians in Douma. Guterres expressed similar concerns [press release] regarding the latest reports of chemical attacks against civilians in Eastern Ghouta.