World can't afford to ignore terrorism in Syria: India

International community cannot afford to ignore terrorist activities in Syria and region: India

Tirumurti asserted that India is against the use of chemical weapons by anybody, anywhere, at any time and under any circumstances

UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti. Credit: PTI Photo

The international community cannot afford to ignore terrorist activities in Syria and the region, India has said as it voiced concern over frequent reports of a resurgence of militant groups in the area and the possibility of them gaining access to chemical weapons.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti's remarks came as he was speaking in his national capacity at the UNSC briefing on Syria (Chemical Weapons).

“Since we joined the Council in January this year, India has been repeatedly cautioning against the possibility of terrorist entities and individuals gaining access to chemical weapons," Tirumurti said on Wednesday.

"We are concerned at the frequent reports of a resurgence of terrorist groups in the region,” he said.

Tirumurti, also the President of UN Security Council for the month of August, said “as we have learnt from the consequences of complacency against terrorism in the past, the international community cannot afford to ignore terrorist activities in Syria and the region.”

Tirumurti asserted that India is against the use of chemical weapons by anybody, anywhere, at any time and under any circumstances.

He said India has consistently maintained that any investigation into the use of chemical weapons must be impartial, credible and objective, following scrupulously the provisions and procedure embedded in the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and in conformity with the delicate balance of power and responsibility enshrined under it to establish facts and reach evidence-based conclusions.

He said India encourages the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to strictly adhere to these parameters.

He said India views the Chemical Weapons Convention as a unique, non-discriminatory disarmament instrument that serves as a model for the elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction.

“We attach high importance to the CWC and stand for its full, effective and non-discriminatory implementation. We support collective efforts by all to ensure that the credibility and integrity of this Convention is maintained to the fullest,” Tirumurti added.

India encouraged Syria to continue its engagement and cooperation with the OPCW so as to resolve all pending issues expeditiously.

Briefing the Council, Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Thomas Markram said although almost eight years have now passed since the adoption of resolution 2118 (2013), there is still work to be done before this resolution can be considered fully implemented.

Resolution 2118 calls for Syria to cooperate with the UN partner, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and allow access to its territory.

“Moreover, as long as the use of chemical weapons continues, or the threat of their use remains, we must retain our focus on preventing these threats. Unity in the Security Council is required to re-establish the norm against chemical weapons,” Markram said.

He said that the use of these weapons must always be seen as a “clear violation of a deeply-held taboo. Accordingly, the identification and accountability of those responsible is imperative.”

Markram said the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has affected the OPCW Technical Secretariat’s ability to deploy to Syria.

“Nevertheless, the Secretariat maintains its readiness for deployments, which are being conducted subject to the evolution of the pandemic,” he said. Despite the travel restrictions, the Technical Secretariat continues to undertake its mandated activities related to the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons programme and its engagement with Syria in this matter, he said.

He reiterated his call to Syria to extend its full cooperation to the OPCW Technical Secretariat to resolve all outstanding issues.

“As noted on many prior occasions, the confidence of the international community in the complete elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons programme depends upon these issues being finalised.”