Reports suggesting yet another deadly chemical attack may have been carried out in Syria on Saturday in the town of Douma highlight the impotence of the international response to earlier attacks alleged to have been carried out in Syria, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement on Monday, Censor.NET reports.
"After decades when we thought we had successfully outlawed the use of chemical and biological weapons, the world is sitting idly by while their use is becoming normalized in Syria," Zeid said. "This collective shrug to yet another possible use of one of the most ghastly weapons ever devised by man is incredibly dangerous."
"We have seen how the use of weapons that are inherently indiscriminate in nature can destroy human life on a catastrophic scale. The past successes in the effort to abolish chemical weapons, and dismantle stockpiles wherever they exist, are being wantonly squandered by ineffectual, or deliberately obstructive, global leadership. A number of very powerful states are directly involved in the conflict in Syria, and yet they have completely failed to halt this ominous regression towards a chemical weapons free-for-all. The consequences could be dire for all of us in the coming decades."
The prohibition on the use of chemical weapons is not only absolute, it has also been fully supported by virtually every country everywhere: a total of 192 States have ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, which entered into force in April 1997, making it one of the most universally subscribed to Conventions in existence.
Nevertheless, chemical weapons are believed to have been employed by diverse parties to the conflict in Syria on at least 35 separate occasions* since the beginning of 2013.
"Verbal condemnation is clearly grossly insufficient, and the abject failure to even properly investigate each and every allegation of chemical attacks by all sides further encourages the use of such despicable weapons and undermines the legitimacy of the international legal order," Zeid said. "The parties to the conflict and their supporters, including various extremist groups, have pushed the door wide open to the use of these awful weapons. As there has been zero accountability for past crimes, they keep on pushing -- keep on testing the global lack of resolve."
Weapons of mass destruction, such as those utilized in Syria today, have a devastating impact on the right to life, and cause grotesque pain and suffering.
"And the world’s response?" Zeid said. "Empty words, feeble condemnations, and a Security Council paralyzed by the use of the veto. The world – and in particular the veto-wielding States on the Security Council -- need to wake up, and wake up fast, to the irreparable damage that is being done to one of the most important planks of global arms control and prevention of human suffering."
Syrian activist groups on Saturday said toxic gas inside barrel bombs dropped from helicopters over a rebel-held city in Syria killed dozens of civilians and wounded scores more. Syrian state news said an "official source" denied the allegations.
In the early hours of Monday morning, Syria State TV reported that "several missiles" had been fired at the T4 air base in Homs, in the country's west, adding that it was "likely an attack by the US." The Pentagon issued a statement Sunday denying it was conducting air strikes in the region.
On April 9, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia said that Moscow had warned the United States of "grave repercussions" if it carries out an attack against Syrian government forces over reports of a deadly chemical weapons attack.
"There was no chemical weapons attack," Nebenzia told the U.N. Security Council.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the council that Washington "will respond" to the attack on a rebel-held town in Syria regardless of whether the United Nations Security Council acts or not.
"We have reached the moment when the world must see justice done," Reuters quoted Haley as saying.
"History will record this as the moment when the Security Council either discharged its duty or demonstrated its utter and complete failure to protect the people of Syria," she said. "Either way, the United States will respond."