UN must be allowed to investigate possible use of chemical weapons in Syria

The Netherlands has given its full support to the UN's plan to investigate the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria. ‘The investigation must be thorough, independent and impartial,’ Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans said on Monday at the opening of the Third Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Mr Timmermans lauded the OPCW’s achievements in recent years and called on the eight countries still outside the Convention to sign up as soon as possible. ‘But the development of biological weapons and the proliferation of nuclear weapons are also dangers,’ the Minister said. ‘We need a stronger international legal order to ensure that chemical, biological and nuclear weapons are not used. Rules alone are not enough. We have to enforce them, too.’

The Chemical Weapons Convention bans the development, storage or use of chemical weapons anywhere in the world. Since the treaty entered into force in 1997, 188 countries have become States Parties. The Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is based in The Hague, is responsible for monitoring compliance with the Convention. The last Review Conference took place in 2008.

On Tuesday the Netherlands is co-hosting a ministerial meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative. Government representatives from countries including Germany, Japan, Mexico and Canada will be in The Hague discussing how to move forward in strengthening the non-proliferation and disarmament regime.

In 2014 the Netherlands will be organising the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, an event at which all UN member states will be represented.