Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Monday, October 28, 2013
at 4:23 PM
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon transmitted this report to the Security Council today, October 28th 2013.
It enclosed the first report of the Director - General of the OPCW on the 'Progress in the Elimination of the Syrian Chemical Weapons Program'.
Click here to get a copy of the report.
It enclosed the first report of the Director - General of the OPCW on the 'Progress in the Elimination of the Syrian Chemical Weapons Program'.
Click here to get a copy of the report.
28 October 2013
Dear Mr. President,
I have the honour to transmit the first monthly report of the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) pursuant to paragraph 2 (f) of OPCW Executive Council decision EC-M-3 3fDEC.1 and paragraph 12 of Security Council resolution 2118 (2013). This letter also provides the information requested in that resolution on the activities of the United Nations related to the implementation of the resolution from 27 September to 22 October 2013.
At the outset, I would like to congratulate the OPCW for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I pay tribute to the leadership of the Director—General, to the professionalism and dedication of OPCW staff, and to their Work, which has earned them this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
I Wish to recall your letter of 11 October 2013 (3/2013/603) conveying the Security Council’s decision to authorize the establishment of the OPCW-United Nations Joint Mission as proposed in my letter of 7 October 2013 (8/2013/591). I am pleased to confirm that, on 16 October 2013, the Director-General of OPCW and I established the Joint Mission and concluded a Supplementary Arrangement concerning cooperation . between the United Nations and the OPCW for the implementation of Executive Council decision EC-M-3 3/DEC. 1 and Security Council resolution 2118 (2013) relating to the elimination of the chemical weapons programme of the Syrian Arab Republic.
Also on 16 October 2013, in close consultation with the Director-General, I appointed Ms. Sigrid Kaag as Special Coordinator to head the Joint Mission. I have every confidence that the strong cooperation that has already defined the work of the OPCW and the United Nations will bolster the role of the Special Coordinator and guide the efforts of our two organizations, Within our respective roles and responsibilities, to fully implement the Executive Council decision and Security Council resolution 2118 (2013).
Mr. Agshin Mehdiyev
President of the Security Council
Upon appointment, the Special Coordinator immediately assumed her responsibilities and continued the effective and efficient functioning of the Joint Mission to date. After a series of meetings at United Nations Headquarters she travelled to the OPCW Headquarters in The Hague for consultations on 19 and 20 October with the Director-General and his staff, along with other stakeholders.
On 21 October 2013 the Special Coordinator travelled to the Syrian Arab Republic to begin her work from the Joint Mission operations base in Damascus. She met with Foreign Minister Waiid Al-Moualem, the Deputy Foreign Minister and Head of the National Committee for the Implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, Faisal Mekdad, and other Syrian counterparts to identify ways to finalize phase II—related activities and discuss arrangements for phase Hi destruction, as described in my letter of '7 October 2013. During those discussions the Government reiterated its support to the Joint Mission, its commitment to fully implement the requirements of Security Council resolution 2118 (2013) and the decisions of the Executive Council
of the OPCW. While in the Syrian Arab Republic, the Special Coordinator Visited a chemical weapons production facility on 22 October 2013 and observed the early results of destruction activities.
The Special Coordinator travelled to Cyprus on 23 October 2013 to develop the Joint Mission Staging Area and Support Base and convened a. planning conference attended by OPCW and United Nations officials. The planning conference focused on phase III activities, and made important progress on key operational matters. The participants finalized a mission concept, a planning framewoik, a draft operational plan, and a range of supporting documentation.
Thus far the Joint Mission, in particular the OPCW, with the support of the United Nations, has focused on clarifying elements contained Within the Government disclosure submitted to the OPCW on 21 September 2013, ahead of an initial declaration to be submitted by 27 October 2013. The Joint Mission has conducted verification activities at 37 out of 41 disclosed facilities. As the Director-General of the OPCW indicates in his attached report, Joint Mission personnel have not been able to visit a few locations due to highly insecure conditions at the respective locations. The security situation at each of the locations is under constant review by the Joint Mission, in close consultation with the Syrian authorities, with the intention or" visiting them as soon as conditions permit. The Joint Mission has confirmed the functional destruction of the production and mixing and filling capabilities at all the sites it has inspected. In all of these activities the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic has extended consistent, constructive cooperation.
United Nations activities
Since the adoption of resolution 2118 (2013), the United Nations has worked first to deploy and support the OPCW-United Nations advance team, and subsequently to launch the Joint Mission. To this end, and guided by the principles of the Organization’s global field support strategy, the United Nations has rapidly deployed a range of personnel, assets and capabilities to the Syrian Arab Republic and Cyprus.
To accomplish this, the United Nations has drawn frOm other missions in the region and from Headquarters with the flexible allocation of personnel, assets and capabilities. As 1 indicated in my letter of '7 October 2013, I intend to make full use of the authorities provided to me to ensure the timely achievement of the mandate of the Mission in a safe manner. The costs of these United Nations activities and deployments will he met by the Joint Mission budget, and will not come at the expense of other missions’ financial resources.
Currently, there are 26 OPCW experts and 50 United Nations personnel working in the Joint Mission, including national staff. These numbers fluctuate constantly, depending on operational requirements. In addition, some of the United Nations support responsibilities are being met through temporary surge deployments of UN personnel who provide short-term capabilities critical for the start-up of the Joint Mission, but whose services are required only for a short time and who are temporarily Joint Mission staff.
During this reporting period, the United Nations has worked to develop the Joint Mission’s operational capability across a range of areas. The United Nations has established office and personnel accommodation for the Mission, deployed 22 armoured vehicles with the support of donors, a diesel fuel tanker, and an armoured ambulance. The United Nations is also providing logistic, administrative and public information support as well as medical assistance, including a United Nations doctor and nurse who work in concert with OP CW paramedics. The United Nations has
also provided emergency trauma bags for office premises and vehicles, together with scheduled related training, and a range of chemical protection equipment. The Mission has established a strategic communications network by linking through other United Nations missions in the region, establishing a VHF base station, and providing computers and satellite and mobile telephones. The United Nations has provided for the Geographic Information System requirements of the Joint Mission, including affiliated equipment. Finally, the United Nations has been central to the outreach effort to Syrian, international and local partners.
The safety and security of all Joint Mission personnel are a central concern for
me and for the Special Coordinator. The security environment in the Syrian Arab Republic remains difficult and unpredictable. The security of OPCW and United Nations personnel remains the ultimate responsibility of the Government of
the Syrian Arab Republic. The Joint Mission has taken a proactive role in assessing the security context, working with the host Government to ensure the necessary security arrangements, and advising on and supporting the conduct of operations.
The United Nations liaises with the Government and local groups related to site access. Opposition groups have a central role in ensuring the safety of the Mission and access to sites where they may exert influence. One of the primary risk mitigation measures employed by the Joint Mission is to deploy to the Syrian Arab Republic only staff that need to be in the country to perform their function, and to keep staff in the country only as long as their presence there is operationally required. In this regard, the Joint Mission Staging Area and Support Base in Cyprus will play an increasingly important role as staff are deployed there in support of the Mission, but also as staff move between Damascus and Cyprus. I
In other efforts to establish the Mission, and further to paragraph 9 of Security Council resolution 2118 (2013), in which the Council called on the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic to conclude modality agreements with the United Nations and OPCW, on 16 October 2013 the United Nations and OPCW jointly proposed a draft tripartite status-of-mission agreement to the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic with a view to concluding the agreement by 1 November 2013.
The United Nations and the OPCW have also concluded a tripartite exchange of letters with the Government of Cyprus, for the Joint Mission Staging Area and Support Base. Arrangements have also been put in place in Lebanon to facilitate the transit of Joint Mission personnel and equipment. The United Nations and the OPCW appreciate the support of both Governments.
On the same day that the Joint Mission was officially hunched on 16 October 2013, both the United Nations and the OPCW launched trust funds to support our respective contributions to this mission. There has been donor interest in both funds and discussions are ongoing with a number of countries related to contributions to the United Nations trust fund.
Phase III activities
It is clear that the Joint Mission, and in particular the OPCW, have a. vital role in verifying Syrian activities with respect to the destruction of the chemical weapons programme of the Syrian Arab Republic. Less clear, but vital to the work of the Joint Mission, is the degree to which the Mission will be expected to provide direct support t0 Syrian authorities in their own planning or operations. The role of the Joint Mission, if any, in conducting actual operations, for instance in the packing, safe transport, and possible removal from the Syrian Arab Republic of chemical agents, requires further consultation and review. The Joint Mission is prepared to contribute to the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons programme in the most efficacious manner possible, consistent with the decision of the OPCW Executive Council and resolution of the Security Council. I have asked the Special Coordinator, operating under the guidance of the OPCW Director-General and myself, to rapidly conclude the necessary consultations with the Syrian authorities and relevant stakeholders in order to arrive at a shared understanding of the operational role to be played by the Syrian Arab Republic, by the Joint Mission, and possibly by Member States. This is an urgent task if the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the Joint Mission, working together, are to meet the envisaged deadlines.
As part of this effort, the Joint Mission will identify areas where support may. be required from Member States or other organizations. I am grateful for the offers of assistance that have been made thus far to the OPCW and the United Nations for this mission. Already the Joint Mission has received valuable support from Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. This support has included armoured vehicles vital to the operational activities of the Joint Mission, airlift capacity for personnel including the Special Coordinator and for ' material including armoured vehicles and mapping information. In addition, Sweden has agreed to place an aircraft at the disposal of the Joint Mission for an initial period of two months. The aircraft will be based in Cyprus and used primarily to transport personnel between Cyprus and Beirut for onward travel to Damascus.
Related to possible areas of support for the Joint Mission’s work is the support that the Syrian authorities may require or benefit from for the conduct of their activities I related to the destruction of the chemical weapons programme. The Syrian authorities have developed an initial security plan for the transport of materials associated with the chemical weapons programme Within the country. That plan will be further discussed between the Joint Mission and the Government. In addition, the Syrian Arab Republic is obliged to submit its destruction plan to the OPCW by 27 October 2013. The ExecutiVe Council of the OPCW will consider the plan and take a decision by 15 November 2013 outlining the detailed requirements for the complete elimination of all chemical weapons material and equipment. The Special Coordinator will work closely with the OPCW headquarters, the Syrian authorities and interested Member States to ensure synchronization of the related planning efforts.
The Syrian Arab Republic remains responsible for the destruction of its chemical weapons programme and has delivered a copy of a letter addressed to the OPCW Director—General by the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister that contained a list of “requirements for the implementation of the security plan”. The extensive list included items related to transportation, material packing and handling, communications, safety and security, power generation, and personnel support.
The Joint Mission is currently analysing the list. The United Nations, possibly using the trust fund that I have established for this operation, will consider meeting certain of the validated support requests either through the direct provision of assistance to the Government, through the conditional loan of material assistance to the Government, or through its own direct operational engagement, acting through the Joint Mission. Some of the support requested by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic could potentially be used for legitimate purposes associated with the destruction of the chemical weapons programme, while at the same time have practical military applications. The United Nations will not pro cure or otherwise provide such dual-use material to the Government. Any assistance provided by the United Nations will be subject to strict conditions in order to ensure that it is used solely for the intended purposes.
The Special Coordinator will consult With the Syrian authorities, and the OPCW and the United Nations Headquarters as appropriate, in order to develop as quickly as possible a list of support requirements for the Syrian Arab Republic and separately for the Joint Mission, which she will share with interested Member States as soon as it is available.
As part of its planning activities, the Joint Mission, with support from the Health and Safety Branch of the OPCW and the United Nations Environment Pro gramme, has developed an initial environmental protection and health and safety analysis. Both parties are prepared to provide additional assistance once more detail regarding the overall operational plan of the Joint Mission is established. The United Nations is
also in contact with the World Health Organization regarding the possible public health implications of activities associated with the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons programme.
The Security Council demonstrated the importance of eliminating the chemical weapons pro gramme of the Syrian Arab Republic when it unanimously adopted resolution 2118 (2013). The Director-General of the OPCW and I, together with our staffs, have acted on this mandate with singular focus to ensure timely progress for the sake of the Syrian people and for the sake of regional and international peace and security. The OPCW and the United Nations have managed Within the brief time of the reporting period to establish a fully functioning Mission capable of confronting the challenging tasks and operating in a dangerous and volatile environment.
The decisions taken by the two Councils rightly accorded operational priority to disabling the capability to produce chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic from their separate component parts. Accordingly, since the initia} deployment of a joint advance team less than one month ago, the OPCW with the support of the United Nations, has verified the destruction of critical equipment in chemical weapons production, mixing and filling facilities. The functional destruction of the declared capacity of the Syrian Arab Republic to produce chemical weapons is expected to be completed as planned by 1 November 2013, a mere 34 days after the adoption of resolution 2118 (2013), with the possible exception of two sites that could not be accessed for security reasons. Efforts _will continue to conduct verification of destruction work at that site.
Let me reiterate that all destruction of chemical Weapons facilities, stocks | and associated materials is the responsibility of the Syrian Government. Neither the OPCW nor the United Nations is mandated to conduct actual destruction activities. First and foremost, success of this Joint Mission will depend on the sustained commitment by the Syrian authorities to fulfil their obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, the decision of the OPCW Executive Council and the resolution of the Security Council. Without sustained, genuine commitment by the Syrian authorities, the Joint Mission will not its objectives.
I would also like to underscore that the Joint Mission is carrying out its work in an extremely dangerous, volatile, and unpredictable environment. It impacts the ability of the Joint Mission to conduct its highly technical work and we should remain vigilant to do all in our powers to support the men and women of the OPCW and the United Nations who have worked so hard, and so well together to achieve these initial steps. However, the job is far from complete and much' impmtant work remains to be done. The United Nations will continue to act in partnership with the OPCW, and through the Joint Mission, to implement the provisions of resolution 2118 (2013) in their entirety.
I should be grateful if you could bring this letter urgently to the attention of the members of the Security Council.
Please accept, Mr. President, the assurances of my highest consideration.
Follow me on Twitter @NabilAbiSaab