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National statements

Transcript of remarks at UN Security Council stakeout

Thematic issues

  • Accountability
  • Chemical weapons
  • Syria

Remarks by the Australian Ambassador to the United Nations, Gary Quinlan, at the UN Security Council Stakeout

Transcript, E&OE

Ambassador Quinlan: Good afternoon.

As you know, we've had a major presentation to the Security Council this morning by the Secretary-General, accompanied by Dr Sellström, who led the UN investigation team. And I'll make some very brief comments before I hand over to a number of colleagues from the Council who also wish to make some comments.

Obviously, we thank the Secretary-General and the team itself which managed to produce a report in record time, but with obvious scientific rigour and with a credibility that we cannot ignore. And we thank the team in particular, who faced some quite serious security issues, physical issues, when they undertook their work.

You heard the Secretary-General's comments convey a clear conclusion that there was the use of chemical weapons in Damascus on 21 August, and the Council now is very much focused on the implications of that. And the implications are obvious – we require urgent action undertaken through the Council. And the Council is certainly unified in its condemnation of the use of chemical weapons …anywhere, any time by anyone.

We very much welcome the agreement reached over the weekend by Russia and the United States to establish a mechanism to secure and destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpile. We've agreed that a resolution is essential to that process and we've agreed to start working now on a resolution. And that needs to include – as the agreement reached over the weekend between the United States and Russia itself said – needs to provide steps to ensure verification and effective implementation. That's a direct quote.

I won't set a timetable on this, but all members of the Council are seized with the urgency. As you know, the initial step will be for the two governments who agreed this over the weekend to submit a decision, a draft decision, to the Executive Council of the OPCW in The Hague. That will be on the implementation at the technical level of the system of verification and implementation, as I've said. That, we hope, will happen in as short a time as possible. But we have to be realistic and these things have to be taken – in The Hague – step by step. But work here on the elements of a draft resolution has already begun. Members of the Council are talking to each other about all of this and we will continue to give that top priority over the coming days.

There's a very strong sense in the Council, I should say, that we must remain united and firm in devising a response and I have a high level of confidence that we'll be able to achieve that. There's also a very strong sense in the Council that we need to re-affirm the need for an urgent move towards a political solution which, of course, is the only solution for Syria. I'm not going to take questions today – I'm going to hand over now to any of my colleagues who, who want to ask for comments.

[Questions interjected]

Ok, one question.

Q: Are you talking about two different resolutions? One addressing the actual use of chemical weapons and one addressing the agreement…

Quinlan: One resolution …

Q: [interjected] to do both…

Quinlan:… one resolution is being talked about. There will be a decision of the OPCW Executive Council taken in The Hague, and then we need to embody how we will implement that through a resolution in the Security Council.

Q: So then we have accountability? How…

Quinlan: Let's talk about the elements separately. Let's talk about this step by step.

Thank you very much.


Last Updated: 18 June 2015
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