Letter dated 13 February 2017 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council
I have the honour to convey herewith the fifth report of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism.
I should be grateful if the present letter and the report could be brought to the attention of the members of the Security Council.
(Signed) António Guterres
Letter dated 13 February 2017 from the Head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism addressed to the Secretary-General
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism has the honour to transmit its fifth report pursuant to Security Council resolutions 2235 (2015) and 2319 (2016).
(Signed) Virginia Gamba
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism
Fifth report of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism
1. The present report is the fifth report of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2319 (2016). It covers the period from 20 October 2016, when the Mechanism’s fourth report (S/2016/888) was submitted to the Council, to 10 February 2017.
2. The Mechanism was established by the Security Council in its resolution 2235 (2015) with a mandate to identify to the greatest extent feasible individuals, entities, groups or Governments who were perpetrators, organizers, sponsors or otherwise involved in the use of chemicals as weapons, including chlorine or any other toxic chemical, in the Syrian Arab Republic where the OPCW fact-finding mission determined or had determined that a specific incident in the Syrian Arab Republic had involved or had likely involved the use of chemicals as weapons.
3. During 2016, the Mechanism implemented its mandate in two phases. The first, pertaining to information collection and planning for case development, consisted of reviewing and analysing the mission’s data, mapping the incidents and developing investigation plans and methodology. At the end of the first phase, the Mechanism had identified nine cases in the Syrian Arab Republic to be investigated (see S/2016/738/Rev.1). The second phase (case investigation) consisted of in-depth analysis of the cases identified and continued until sufficient information had been gathered, analysed, assessed and corroborated to allow the Mechanism to present its findings to the Security Council.
4. In the Mechanism’s third and fourth reports, the Leadership Panel reported that it had reached a conclusion as to the actors involved in the following four cases: Talmenes (21 April 2014), Sarmin (16 March 2015), Qmenas (16 March 2015) and Marea (21 August 2015). In relation to the first three incidents, the Panel had determined that the Syrian Arab Armed Forces had been involved in the use of toxic chemicals as weapons and that their helicopters had been used to drop barrel bombs in those three cases. It had also identified the Hama and Humaymim airbases, both controlled by the Government, as the airbases from which the helicopter flights had originated. In relation to the incident in Marea, the Panel had determined that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) had conducted an attack in Marea, using several artillery shells filled with sulfur mustard, a chemical weapon.
5. In paragraph 1 of resolution 2319 (2016), by which the Mechanism’s mandate was renewed, the Security Council reaffirmed the mandate contained in resolution 2235 (2015). It was also reaffirmed that the Mechanism would continue to base its work on the letters dated 27 August and 9 September 2015 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council (S/2015/669 and S/2015/696). The structure, terms of reference and procedures, including with regard to the Mechanism’s methods of work, information management, modalities for access, evidence and reporting, therefore remain unchanged.
6. Furthermore, in paragraphs 4 and 9 of resolution 2319 (2016), the Mechanism was encouraged to consult appropriate United Nations counter-terrorism and non-proliferation bodies, in particular the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) and the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities. This was in order to exchange information on non-State actor perpetration, organization, sponsorship or other involvement in the use of chemicals as weapons for those incidents falling within the Mechanism’s mandate and, as appropriate, to brief those bodies on relevant results of the Mechanism’s work.
7. The Mechanism was also invited, in paragraph 5 of resolution 2319 (2016), to engage with relevant regional States in pursuit of its mandate, including in order to identify to the greatest extent feasible any individuals, entities or groups associated with ISIL or the Nusrah Front (now calling itself Jabhat Fath al-Sham), on the incidents falling within the Mechanism’s mandate. Furthermore, regional States were encouraged to provide to the Mechanism, as appropriate, information on non-State actors’ access to chemical weapons and their components or efforts by non-State actors to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use chemical weapons and their means of delivery that occurred under their jurisdiction.
8. In addition, the Mechanism was invited, in paragraph 6 of resolution 2319 (2016), to offer its assistance to OPCW in situations where a State party to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction requested assistance and protection against the use or threat of use of chemical weapons.