Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Chemical Samples from Syria on Way to Labs
Teams from the United Nations are working at a feverish pace to analyze samples taken from Syria to determine if the allegations regarding the use of chemical weapons are true. The use of chemical weapons has been considered to be a violation of basic human rights since World War I, when the Germans used mustard and chlorine gas with devastating effect. Even the United States have had accusations of chemical warfare and deleterious side-effects associated with the use of Agent Orange. Should these allegations prove to be truthful, then Syria would be in direct violation of the ban put on chemical warfare by the United Nations. At the end of his press conference at United Nation Headquarters in New York, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon confirmed this by saying that “the use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances would be a serious violation of international law and an outrageous war crime.” To that effect, Ban called the members of the Security Council to come together and agree on an appropriate response. However, the problem is broader than just the events in Syria. The members of the council need to think about how their response could impact future efforts to maintain peace before authorizing punitive measures. The use of such force by the United Nations is not lawful unless it is in self-defense or is approved by the Security Council. The last of the samples will arrive by tomorrow. The scientists, who are led by Sweden native Dr Åke Sellström, will then finish analysis to determine if chemical warfare was involved in the Ghouta area of Damascus. The results will then be given to the Security Council. However, according to Mr. Ban, the team only has a mandate to determine if there was or was not any use of chemical weapons, not who was responsible.