Delivered By: Ms. Ghasaq Shaheen, Political Coordinator

Please check against delivery.

Madam President,

I thank Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu and Mr. Fernando Arias for their briefings today and we welcome the participation of Mr. Arias in this meeting. We also listened to the lengthy report delivered by Mr. Santiago Oñate.

Before addressing the subject of today’s discussion, I would like to express our sincere condolences to the Representatives of Syria and Turkey, who are with us today, as well as to the families of the victims of the devastating earthquake that hit the two countries. The UAE reaffirms its continued commitment to providing the relief support needed during this difficult time.

Madam President,

The UAE reiterates its explicit rejection and condemnation of the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere, under any circumstances. Their use constitutes a flagrant violation of the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention and international law.

In the context of today’s meeting on Syria chemical file, the UAE would like to share the following observations:

First, we reiterate the need to address the gaps and pending issues between the Syrian authorities and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and to keep these issues at the center of the Council’s discussions on this file. In this context, we welcome the visit undertaken by a reduced team comprised of some members of the Declaration Assessment Team (DAT) to Syria last and emphasize the importance to hear its findings in the next council session.

Secondly, the UAE values the role of OPCW in implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention including investigations of incidents that involve the alleged use of chemical weapons. We would also like to stress the technical nature of the OPCW’s mandate and the importance of maintaining its independence, separate from differences in political developments, to in order to achieve the objectives and purpose of the Chemical Weapons Convention. It is critical for investigations to follow rigorous methodology so that findings do not leave any room for doubt or uncertainty. Any allegation of potential use of chemical weapons must be taken with the utmost seriousness.  In this context, we refer to the report issued by the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team of the Douma incident in 2018, which raises further questions.

Third, the UAE calls for further investigations in the development and use of chemical and biological weapons by the Da’esh terrorist organization in Syria and Iraq. We commend UNITAD’s investigative efforts in this regard and ensure that Da’esh is held accountable for its atrocity crimes.

In conclusion, Madam President, we stress the importance of achieving tangible progress on the chemical file, and we reiterate that the ultimate goal of eliminating the use of chemical weapons is to protect humanity from its horrific effects.

Thank you.