Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare: NPWJ calls for accountability in Syria

29 Apr, 2015 | Press Releases

29 April 2015
Today, the world is observing the “Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare” to pay tribute to the victims of chemical warfare and reaffirm the commitment to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). This Memorial Day is officially recognised by the United Nations (UN) and has been celebrated since 2005.

Statement by Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, Secretary-General of No Peace Without Justice: 

“On this Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare, No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT) call on all States to reaffirm their commitment and intensify their efforts to eliminate the threat of chemical weapons, as a tool to protect civilians and to prevent more human suffering in the future.

“This year’s remembrance is particularly significant as it also marks the 100th anniversary of the first time chemical weapons were deployed on a large scale during the battle of Ypres in 1915. Sadly, it also provides an opportunity to remind that, as outrageously demonstrated by the devastating conflict in Syria, the international community has not been able so far to put an end to the deadly legacy of chemical weapons at the expense of innocent people whose lives have and are been destroyed through their indiscriminate use.

“Two years ago, the chemical attack which struck the opposition-controlled Damascus suburbs of Ghouta and killed over 1,400 people – mostly civilians, including large numbers of children, provoked a worldwide outcry and prompted the unanimous adoption, on 27 September 2013, of Security Council Resolution 2118, calling for the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons program. One year later, the world leaders celebrated the OCPW’s announcement that the most lethal chemical weapons stockpile declared by the Syrian regime had been destroyed.

“However, as reported by several independent investigations, since Syria signed up to the Chemical Weapons Convention, President Assad’s forces have used – and continue to do so – other toxic substances, including chlorine gas, in systematic attacks against civilian areas, in another blatant breach of international humanitarian law. Furthermore, we can only deeply lament that so far no meaningful step has been undertaken to hold those who ordered and executed the Ghouta massacre and other chemical attacks to account, as well as the many other appalling crimes and abuses that have been committed against the civilian population in Syria.

“So far, the international community has been lax in its obligation to protect civilians and has failed to help restore peace in Syria. As we have consistently advocated since the beginning of the conflict, being firm on accountability is the only effective tool to break the cycle of violence and terror in Syria. On this Day of Remembrance, the international community should do more than recall the past. It should put an end to the suffering of the Syrian people and allows them to start rebuilding their future, on the basis of justice, equality and human rights for all”.

For further information, Gianluca Eramo (MENA Democracy program Coordinator) on or Nicola Giovannini (Press & Public Affairs Coordinator) on or +32-2-548-3915.