Syria to chair UN Disarmament Forum that established chemical weapons ban

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Despite accusations that the Syrian government perpetrated another deadly chemical attack on its people on Saturday, Syria is scheduled in May to chair the United Nations disarmament forum that produced an international ban on chemical weapons use.

According to United Nations Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization, U.N. rules will allow Hussam Edin Aala, the Syrian ambassador to the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament, to organize the work to be done during the conference and set its agenda. Aala will also represent the Conference on Disarmament in its relations with states, the U.N. General Assembly, and other entities of the U.N.

The Conference on Disarmament characterizes itself as “the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community,” asserting that its mandate includes “practically all multilateral arms-control and disarmament problems.” Initiatives negotiated by the forum include the Chemical Weapons Convention — an arms-control treaty that prohibits the use, production, and stockpiling of chemical weapons — the Biological Weapons Convention and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Syria is scheduled to assume the presidency of the forum from May 28 until June 24, despite allegations that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad perpetrated the latest of several chemical weapons attacks on his own people on Saturday.

The Washington Free Beacon reported, “Dozens of Syrians in Douma, the last rebel-held enclave in eastern Ghouta, died by suffocation in a suspected chemical attack. Some media outlets reported that at least 42 people were killed, including several women and children, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the number at more than 80. Several hundred civilians were injured.”

In a Sunday tweet, President Donald Trump blamed the Assad regime for perpetrating the attack, alleging “Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price … to pay.” Others accusing the Syrian government of the attack include analysts, commentators, and Syrian activist groups.

During Syria’s ongoing conflict, which began in 2011, the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on the Syrian people, including unarmed civilians, dozens of times.

The Syrian government claims that it did not perpetrate Saturday’s chemical attack. Russia has also contended that it is not responsible for the atrocity.

U.N. Watch, an independent monitoring group, expressed vehement opposition to Syria being allowed to lead a disarmament forum that has sought to prevent the use of chemical weapons.

“Having the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad preside over global chemical and nuclear weapons disarmament will be like putting a serial rapist in charge of a women’s shelter,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch. “The Assad regime’s documented use of chemical weapons remains the most serious violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention in the treaty’s 20-year history.”

U.N. Watch intends to hold protests outside of the U.N. hall, joined by Syrian victims of the Assad regime’s chemical weapons attacks.

“We urge the U.N. to understand that at a time when Syria is gassing its own men, women, and children to death, to see Syria heading the world body that is supposed to protect these victims will simply shock the conscience of humanity,” Neuer said.

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