UK foreign secretary calls to reinforce global ban against chemical weapons

UK foreign secretary calls to reinforce global ban against chemical weapons
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson © Suzanne Plunkett 2017

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has travelled to The Hague, the Netherlands, to discuss the global ban against chemical weapons.

A meeting to debate the global ban against chemical weapons was called by the UK and ten other countries in May of this year, following an alleged chemical weapons attack carried out by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad against rebel factions in the country.

At the time, the UK carried out a bombing attack in Syria in retaliation, and now hopes to secure commitments to strengthen the global ban against chemical weapons to try to prevent further such attacks taking place in the future. As such, a special session of the conference of states parties of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW ).

What is the aim of the special session of the conference of states parties?

The OPCW is currently applying its proven technical expertise and experience on chemical weapons to determine whether or not a chemical attack took place in Syria, but will not attribute responsibility. The UK has tabled a motion which would establish a framework through which the OPCW could identify those responsible for chemical attacks in a significant expansion of its remit.

The special session will take place from 26-28 June, and Johnson will make public remarks to the meeting in support of the resolution. In advance of the meeting, Johnson emphasised that more than 80 countries supported the UK’s call for a special meeting of the OPCW’s members, and suggested that this indicated wider support for upholding the ban on chemical weapons.

He stated: “This support from the international community demonstrates a shared recognition that the global norm against chemical weapons use is being threatened, following the horrific attacks in Syria and Salisbury in recent months… We now owe a duty to the world to seize the opportunity that this meeting provides to uphold and strengthen [the Chemical Weapons Convention], so that chemical weapons are truly banished to the past.”

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