The Syrian American Council and Americans for a Free Syria Applaud OPCW Decision on Syrian Regime
Wednesday’s OPCW decision to strip the Syrian regime of its privileges of membership represents a historic first step towards accountability for chemical weapons crimes
WASHINGTON D.C., April 23, 2021 – Today, the Syrian American Council and Americans for a Free Syria applaud the members of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) who voted to strip the Assad regime of its rights and privileges due to the repeated, ongoing use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria. Though this decision represents an important first step towards accountability, it remains critical that such a largely symbolic motion by the chemical weapon watchdog should be followed by a referral to the United Nations General Assembly for further accountability actions.
Although Wednesday’s decision by the OPCW is unprecedented, the undersigned organizations urge further action by the United Nations given the regime’s history of non-compliance with international laws and norms surrounding the use of banned chemical agents as weapons of war. A referral to the United Nations General Assembly, or to the United Nations Security Council under Chapter 7 for accountability for the over 50 credibly documented instances of chemical weapons uses by the regime since 2013 would represent a meaningful step towards justice.
In Syria, civilians still live in fear of brutal attacks by the Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian backers. The international community must uphold its promise to bring about the end of chemical weapons use so that the horrific scenes from Ghouta in 2013, Khan Shakhun in 2017, and countless other instances of known chemical attacks initiated by the regime are never repeated. The Syrian American Council and Americans for a Free Syria call for immediate action by the international community to implement a permanent and lasting decision on the status of Syria in the United Nations that leads to the expulsion of the brutal Assad regime from the international body.