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UN Statements on Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria, August 2013

Speakers: Ban Ki-Moon, and Maria Cristina Perceval
Published August 22, 2013

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released two statements on August 21, 2013, after reports of chemical weapons being used in Syria. Ambassador Maria Cristina Perceval of Argentina, UN Security Council President for August, spoke at the same press conference.

UN Secretary General Ban's Formal Request to Government to Allow Swift Investigation by UN Mission:

The Secretary-General remains deeply troubled by the reports of the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. The Secretary-General believes that the incidents reported yesterday need to be investigated without delay. Since yesterday, he has been in touch with world leaders on the matter. He has instructed Under-Secretary-General Angela Kane to travel to Damascus. Furthermore, senior UN officials have been in contact with the Syrian authorities since the first reports were received.

The Secretary-General takes positive note of yesterday's meeting of the Security Council, as well as the conclusions by the President of the Security Council supporting his intention to conduct a thorough, impartial and prompt investigation.

The Secretary-General now calls for the mission, presently in Damascus, to be granted permission and access to swiftly investigate the incident which occurred on the morning of 21 August. A formal request is being sent by the United Nations to the Government of Syria in this regard. He expects to receive a positive response without delay.

The Secretary-General reiterates his call for a cessation of hostilities so that humanitarian assistance can be urgently delivered.

UN Secretary General Ban's Statement on Use of Chemical Weapons violating international humanitarian law:

Professor Åke Sellström and his team are currently in the Syrian Arab Republic to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons reported by the Government of Syria at Khan al-Assal, as well as two other allegations of the use of chemical weapons reported by Member States. According to the agreement reached in Damascus in July, the two parties are discussing, in parallel, other allegations and their related sites.

The United Nations mission to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria is following the current situation in Syria carefully, and remains fully engaged in the investigation process that is mandated by the Secretary General. Professor Sellström is in discussions with the Syrian Government on all issues pertaining to the alleged use of chemical weapons, including this most recent reported incident.

The Secretary-General is aware that a number of Member States, the Arab League and the European Union have expressed grave concern about the most recent reports of the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria. The Secretary-General reaffirms his determination to ensure a thorough investigation of the reported alleged incidents that are brought to his attention by Member States.

The Secretary-General reiterates that any use of chemical weapons by any side under any circumstances would violate international humanitarian law.

Excerpt from Ambassador Perceval's statement:

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