Forum: Disarmament and International Security CommitteeIssue: Measures to combat the use of chemical weapons in SyriaStudent Officer: Kay ZinPosition: ChairIntroductionIn 2012, it was announced that Syria was in possession of chemical weapons, but they vowed to only use them against “external aggression.” On the contrary, throughout the years from 2012-2017 there were continuous allegations of the use of these chemical weapon during the Syrian Civil War. This the central reason, which led to this discussion to combat the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Chemical weapons, unlike conventional weapons, are extremely difficult to control. This factor adds a more terrifying aspect to the already lethal weapon (Perry). Intelligence services have estimated that Syria is in possession of around 1,000 tons of chemical weapons. The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) was enforced on April 29, 1997, and currently has 192 states-parties.
This treaty bans the possession, creation, and usage of chemical weapon. It also demands the destruction of these chemical during a specific timespan. Syria has ratified, and agreed to follow the requirements of the treaty, but the recent events have shown otherwise. Syria is still in possession of deadly chemical weapons and is putting them into use.The most recent use of these chemical weapons occured in April of 2017 where Syrian forces used the chemical weapons, Sarin, more than two dozen times, killing over 80 civilians. Sarin is a highly toxic nerve agent that is used as a chemical weapon. Because of the recent Sarin attacks, the United Nation has also called upon an emergency meeting to discuss this situation. Numerous countries have spoken out about the recent attacks, including USA and Russia.
While the US has come forward and threaten to get their military involved if the attacks don’t stop, Russia veto a resolution that condemned this attack.Definition of Key TermsChemical weapons Chemical compounds, usually toxic agents, that are used to kill.Sarin A highly toxic nerve agent that is used as a chemical weapon. This is one of the main chemical weapons that is used in Syria.TreatyAn agreement under international law between countries.
Stockpile An accumulated stock of goods.HistoryUsage of chemical weapons throughout history Chemical weapons have been used in history since 479 BCE, when Peloponnesian forces used sulfur fumes on the town of Plataea. Since then, there have been major developments on chemical weapons, making them drastically more deadly. The event that led to the significant growths of these weapon was World War I. The Cold War also played a big role in the further development of the chemical weapons. World War I (July 28, 1914 – Nov. 11, 1918)During World War I, chemical weapons were greatly developed and used by immensely.
Chlorine, phosgene, and mustard gas were some of the chemicals used during that time. These gases were used primarily by the German and British militaries. In just 4 years, around 3,000 chemicals are estimated to be put into military use, which lead to the deaths of around 90,000 – 100,000 people.
This extensive usage of chemical weapons led to the creation of the Geneva Protocol, which forbade the usage of chemical weapons during warfare. The Cold War (1947 – 1991)By the start of the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union had stockpiled an enormous amount of chemical weapons. The amount of chemical weapons the two countries had could have destroyed almost entire world. This led to the creation of The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), to prevent the disastrous effects that could result of chemical weapons.History of chemical weapons in SyriaSyria started accumulating its chemical weapons in the 1970s and 1980s, because of continuous losses in battles against Israel.
Since then, Syria have been producing chemical weapons in the country. Timeline of Relevant Resolutions, Treaties and EventsDateDescription of eventJune 17, 1925The Geneva Protocol was signed in 1925April 29, 1997The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) was enforced.July 23, 2012The first time Syria confirmed they were in possession of chemical weapons. December 23, 2012The first time Syria was allegedly reported of chemical weapon use.March 19, 2013Syria was allegedly reported of chemical weapon use again.
March 21, 2013The UN conducts an investigation on the possible use of chemical weapons in SyriaAugust 21, 2013Security Council held an emergency meeting because of the then recent attacks the attack.September 12, 2013Syria ratified the CWC.March 6, 2015Security Council enforces a resolution condemning the use of chlorine as a weapon in Syria’s civil war.April 4, 2017In Syria, sarin gas was used in an attack more than two dozen times, killing killing over 80 civiliansApril 12, 2017Russia veto a resolution that condemned the most recent attack. (Timeline)Key IssuesHuman rights violationOne of the biggest issues with using chemical weapons, is that it is a major human rights violation. The protection of human rights is one of the UN’s biggest role, which is why this issue is up for debate. Syria has been reported of using chemical weapons on their citizens since 2012, and allegedly continued this usage until 2017. This is a major breach of human rights, because people should have the right to feel safe in their own homes, and chemical weapons are especially both legal for a person’s mental and physical state.
Syrian Civil WarThe Syrian Civil War was first initiated in March of 2011, when Syrians started to protest for democracy and were shot by the security forces while doing so. This caused nationwide protests ordering for the resignation of President Assad. This led to continuous killings of protesters across the nations. By June of 2013, it was reported by the UN that around 90,000 people had been put to death in the conflict, and by August 2015, the figure multiplied by almost three making it 250,000 deaths in just 4 years. Countries including Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey are facing a refugee crisis, because of the over 4.5 million people have escaped Syria since the start of this conflict. The use of chemical weapons are occurring during this civil war, and the government and the rebel forces are blaming each other for the use of these weapons leading to further conflicts.
Violation of the CWCThe Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) was enforced on April 29, 1997, and currently has 192 states-parties. This treaty bans the possession, creation, and usage of chemical weapon. It also demands the destruction of these chemical during a specific timespan.
On September 12, 2013, Syria ratified, and agreed to follow the requirements of the treaty, but the recent events have shown otherwise. Syria is still in possession of deadly chemical weapons and is putting them into use. The most recent use of these chemical weapons occured in April of 2017, which is after they had already signed the treaty. Syrian forces used the chemical weapons, Sarin, more than two dozen times, killing over 80 civilians. Issues with chemical weaponsUsing chemical weapons are in no way like your conventional weapons. It not only attacks a person’s physical state, but also their psychological state. Unlike guns and missiles, the feeling of a gas attack is much more terrorizing and lasts for a longer period of time. It is said to feel like “a burning sensation in the head, red-hot needles in the lungs, the throat seized as by a strangler”.
The effects of chemical weapons can also takes years to recover from, because the gases continue to stay inside your systems. Not only are there major ethical issues with using chemical weapons there are also a lot of technical issues. First, chemical weapons are not as effective as conventional weapons.
According to statistics, chemical weapons only caused less than 10% of the totals deaths in World War I. Chemical weapons are also hard to control. Although gas masks and other precautions are taken to ensure that the gases do not affect themselves, in many cases gases blowback onto their own troops and harshly affects the troops in the frontline. Major Parties Involved and Their ViewsSyria Syria is the main party involved in this issue as it is taking place in its country. The country is currently in the midst of a civil war, which results in contrasting views on this topic. The government and the rebel forces holds each other accountable for the use of chemical weapons, which led to further conflicts. The country claims to be against the usage of chemical weapons, which can be seen when President Assad ratified the CWC, but recent events show otherwise.
USA The US has threatened to get military involved if there is further use of chemical weapons, but after the recent attacks they haven’t made any advances. Russia Russia denied that Syria used chemical weapons, and continues to back the Assad government. Russia also vetoed a resolution that condemned the most recent attack.Evaluation of Previous Attempts to Resolve the IssueSome previous attempts to resolve the general issue of the usage of chemical include the The Geneva Protocol, which was signed in 1925, the The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). More recently, resolutions from the UN Security Council attempted to solve this specific issue of chemical weapon is Syria.The Geneva Protocol was enforced due to the overwhelming usage of chemical weapons in World War I. But while the geneva protocol prevents nations from using chemical weapons in war, it could not stop countries for harbouring and manufacturing these weapon in their own country.
This led to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which was caused because of the enormous amount of chemical weapons the US and Russia had in their country. Although the CWC exists and Syria has ratified it, Syria is evidently still in possession of chemical weapons and is putting them into use. This can be seen when they used chemical in April of 2017, which once again led to an emergency meeting held by the United Nations Security Council. The Security Council debated on extending a resolution that condemned the usage of any type of chemical weapons, called the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism. “Eleven members voted in favor of the resolution, China and Kazakhstan abstained and Bolivia and Russia voted against it.
The resolution did not pass because of Russia’s veto” (Timeline).Possible SolutionsThe Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) should be involved in the process of destroying existing chemical weapons, and inspecting the existence of any chemical weapons. Sanctions can be imposed on Syria, until it can be ensured that there are no more chemical weapons in the nation. The ban of manufacturing and distribution of chemical weapons by the UN should result in more serious consequences with official UN representatives present in Syria to report on the status of the weapon. Implement the creation of a new organization to help minimize the violence and usage of chemical weapons, who will in turn take action against that issue.Questions a Resolution Must AnswerIn what ways can we combat or lower the usage of chemical weapons in Syria?How can we get rid of chemical weapons in general?How can we raise awareness of this issue?How can we deal with the refugees that resulted from the war?BibliographyWorks citedEverts, Sarah.
“A Brief History of Chemical War.” Chemical Heritage Foundation, 17 Apr. 2015, www.chemheritage.org/distillations/magazine/a-brief-history-of-chemical-war.Graham-Harrison, Emma.
“Syria Chemical Weapons Attack: What We Know about Deadly Air Raid.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 5 Apr. 2017, www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/05/syria-chemical-weapons-attack-what-we-know-khan-sheikhun.
Kawashima, Yuta. “Timeline of Syrian Chemical Weapons Activity, 2012-2017.” Arms Control Association, 17 Nov. 2017, www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Timeline-of-Syrian-Chemical-Weapons-Activity.
Maass, Harold. “A Brief History of Chemical Warfare.” The Week, 7 Sept. 2013, www.theweek.com/articles/460335/brief-history-chemical-warfare.
Perry, Mark. “Why the World Banned Chemical Weapons.” POLITICO, POLITICO, 16 Apr. 2017, www.politico.eu/article/why-the-world-banned-chemical-weapons/.”Syria Chemical ‘Attack’: What We Know.
” BBC News, BBC, 26 Apr. 2017, www.bbc.
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2018, www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/cwcglance.Weisberger, Mindy. “World War I Unleashed Chemical Weapons and Changed Modern Warfare.
” LiveScience, Purch, 6 Apr. 2017, www.livescience.com/58569-chemical-weapons-world-war-one.html.Further Readinghttps://unoda-web.s3-accelerate.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/assets/WMD/Bio/pdf/Status_Protocol.pdfhttps://www.opcw.org/protection/protection-against-chemical-weapons/https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/syriaprofile