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On 24 October 2017, the Security Council voted on the draft resolution submitted by the United States of America calling for a hasty extension of the mandate of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) to investigate cases of use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic even before the release of a report by JIM on its work over the past year.

The Russian Federation voted against the draft resolution for reasons that we have explained repeatedly in public statements and in working contacts with other Security Council members. The main reason is that it makes no sense to adopt such important decisions without even assessing the performance of JIM. Without such an assessment, it is impossible to determine whether its mandate should be extended as is, or whether it should be renewed and adjusted, as envisaged in the Security Council’s previous resolution 2319 (2016).

The Americans chose to proceed with a premature vote on the draft resolution in disregard of basic logic and of the long-established procedures of the Security Council. They were obviously guided by their own considerations, that are far removed from the purpose of the establishment of JIM. It has already become their trademark to rush headlong, crudely and brazenly imposing their position on others without taking the trouble to make any coherent arguments. We see this clearly in how allegations of Russian interference in the domestic affairs of the United States of America are being imposed on American society. The same methods are being used in the international arena. Damascus is being groundlessly accused of crimes and Moscow is being charged with allegedly providing cover. They lie shamelessly. They are literally holding hostage both JIM, and OPCW, as well as the Security Council, and their intransigence is not tempered by international law, diplomatic rules or even common sense.

This course of action is causing direct damage to the foundations of multilateral diplomacy, eviscerating the work of international bodies, including JIM, and reshaping it to suit American interests.

Our position is abundantly clear and consistent: those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be identified and duly punished. We were present from the start at the founding of JIM, and we hoped that its work would throw light on chemical crimes committed in Syria. In 2016 we agreed twice to extend the operation of JIM, broaden its scope to territories adjacent to Syria, and give its mandate an anti-terrorist focus. So we are now entitled to ask what has actually been done to carry out these decisions. What has the quality of the investigation been? To what extent does this work meet the high standards of the Chemical Weapons Convention? Is there not a need to make adjustments in order to make JIM more effective? Instead we are being asked to extend its mandate sight unseen. Apparently, they are afraid that a thoughtful analysis will lead to conclusions that Washington will not like.

The Russian Federation has always advocated that JIM should carry out its work in a systematic and organized manner. JIM is expected to produce a report on its performance in the very near future. We will study it very thoroughly and then suggest how to proceed.

Source : UN A/72/578-S/2017/901