Syria stripped of voting rights by chemical weapons watchdog after poisonous gas discovery News
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Syria stripped of voting rights by chemical weapons watchdog after poisonous gas discovery

Syria was stripped of its voting rights on Wednesday at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), after recent findings evidenced their use of poisonous gas throughout the nation’s civil war.

A two-thirds majority of nations voted to strip Syria’s Bashar al Assad regime of its rights and privileges as a member of the organization, including the right to vote at OPCW conferences. The OPCW, as the monitoring body for the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, has 193 members, 87 of whom voted in favor of the suspension of Syria’s rights. Out of the 136 countries participating in Wednesday’s Conference of State Parties, 34 states abstained and 15 states voted against, including Russia, Iran and Syria.

The OPCW is the leading global body tasked with overseeing the elimination of the use of chemical weapons in warfare. Repeated investigations by the chemical weapons watchdog and their specialized Investigation and  Identification Team have revealed that Syrian forces have used nerve agents and chlorine, causing death and permanent injury in a rebel-controlled village. The most recent conclusive report was released as recently as April 12, 2021, and demonstrates the Syrian government’s action to be in clear contravention of the Convention’s provisions.

Wednesday’s vote, while largely regarded as symbolic, is a clear signal to the Assad regime that contraventions of the Convention will not be tolerated. While the decision has received the support of most signatories to the Convention and most parties to the OPCW, Syria and their key military ally, Russia, have condemned the decision and continue to deny their use of chemical weapons in the civil conflict. Dmitry Polyanskiy, First Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, has openly condemned the decision on Twitter, labeling the decision as a “stunt” and a detriment to the credibility of the OPCW.