Cyprus Mail

Syria, Security Council and French initiatives

By Andrestinos Papadopoulos

After 17 months of inaction, due to three vetoes of China and Russia to draft resolutions submitted by France and its partners, the use of chemical weapons in Syria on August 21 finally resulted in UN Security Council resolution 2118 which condemned in the strongest terms any use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic.

The Resolution, adopted on September 27, determines that the use of chemical weapons anywhere constitutes a threat to international peace and security, endorses the decision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) which contains special procedures for the expeditious destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons programme and stringent verification thereof and calls for its full implementation in the most expedient and safest manner.

In order to secure its effective implementation, the Resolution contains, inter alia, special provisions, such as the prohibition of transfer, directly or indirectly, of chemical weapons to other states or non-state actors and the obligation that Syria shall cooperate fully with the OPCW and the United Nations by providing their personnel with immediate and unfettered access to and the right to inspect any and all sites and by arranging for the security of the monitoring and destruction mission.

Moreover, the strong conviction is expressed that those individuals responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria should be held accountable.

On the other hand, the Resolution unreservedly supports a political solution by fully endorsing the Geneva Communiqué of June 30, which sets out a number of key steps beginning with the establishment of a transitional governing body exercising full executive powers, while calling for the convening of an international conference on Syria to implement the Geneva Communiqué with a view to achieving stability and reconciliation.

Finally, in the event of non-compliance with its Resolution, the Security Council decided to impose measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter which provides for sanctions and the use of force.

France, being sensitive to the massacre of innocent people caused by the use of chemical weapons in Syria, did not remain inactive. It exercised whatever pressure it could to change the stand of the different actors, especially that of the intransigent Syrian president who finally accepted international control of his chemical arsenal.

In this respect, the Security Council Resolution satisfied France, since it contains conditions put forward by President Francoise Hollande, when the UN General Assembly started its work.

Namely, the qualification of the use of chemical weapons as a threat to international peace and security, the conviction that those individuals responsible should be held accountable and the possibility of imposing measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

As stated by the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, the Resolution is a first step towards a political procedure to be launched at the Geneva-2 meeting, through proper preparation.

The role of France as a protagonist in the Syrian crisis and its interest in creating the necessary conditions conducive to an end to the crisis, on the basis of the principles agreed in Geneva on 30 June, is better understood if we take into account that Lebanon and Syria were under French mandate after the First World War, and that the region of the Eastern Mediterranean, because of its rich energy resources, has gained geostrategic importance.

This has also pushed France to seek an upgraded influence in the region.

Andrestinos Papadopoulos is a former ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus

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