Member states of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) voted Wednesday April 21 in favor of suspending Syria's rights for its alleged use of chemical weapons.
An unprecedented decision in the history of this body.
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Supported by Western countries like France, Britain and the United States, the motion to strip Damascus of its “rights and privileges” won the required two-thirds majority of the votes. “In the light of this result, the draft resolution is adopted,” announced Jose Antonio Zabalgoitia Trejo, who chaired the meeting of the member countries of the OPCW based in The Hague. A total of 87 countries voted in favor of the motion, 15, including Syria, Russia, China and Iran, voted against, and 34 abstained. Of the 193 Member States, 136 countries participated in the vote.
The Syrian regime is accused of using sarin and chlorine in three attacks in March 2017 on the rebel-held village of Latamné (north). Damascus categorically denies and claims that these attacks were staged. Syria and its ally, Russia, accused the Western powers of leading a “politicized” campaign through the OPCW. The motion states that the OPCW “decides, after careful consideration, and without prejudice to the Syrian Arab Republic's obligations under the (Chemical Weapons) Convention to suspend the rights and privileges” of Syria. The latter will henceforth be deprived of the right to vote at the annual conference of member countries, will no longer be eligible for the executive council and will no longer be able to occupy any position within the organization.
Syria has been criticized for having left questions from the OPCW unanswered after the publication last year of an investigation by the body attesting that the Syrian regime had used sarin and chlorine in Latamne. Damascus then failed to meet the 90-day deadline set by the OPCW to declare weapons used and reveal its remaining stocks. The pressure increased last week after the publication of a second OPCW report incriminating Damascus, this time for a chlorine attack in the city of Saraqeb in 2018.