France, Britain Drafting UN Resolution on Chemical Weapons

Move comes after investigation concludes that Syrian regime used chlorine gas on three occasions since 2014.

File photo: UN chemical weapons experts carry samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack, Damascus, Syria, August 28, 2013.
File photo: UN chemical weapons experts carry samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack, Damascus, Syria, August 28, 2013. Mohamed Abdullah, Reuters

France is working with Britain to draft a United Nations resolution on chemical weapons as quickly as possible, France's foreign affairs minister said on Tuesday. 

"We have taken over the drafting (of the chemical weapons resolution) with Britain. We are not giving up," Jean-Marc Ayrault told Reuters ahead of a meeting to discuss the Ukraine crisis in Minsk.  

The draft comes after a joint investigation by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons concluded that the Syrian government carried out attacks using chlorine gas on three occasions since 2014.

Matthew Rycroft, British ambassador to the UN, said that his country and France were putting forward the resolution to "make sure that those members of the regime that were involved in that abhorrent use of chemical weapons in Syria will face the consequences."

Francois Delattre, French ambassador to the UN, noted that if the council can't act swiftly to punish the use of chemical weapons, "there is a big question mark about the credibility of the UN."

However, despite the findings of international investigators tasked by the UN Security Council to identify perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks in Syria, Russia has been reluctant to push for accountability.

On Tuesday, Russian UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who had previously called the investigators' report "unconvincing," said that Russia would not support "any action" on the draft resolution.

"At this point, [there's] just not enough material, proof, to do anything about it, so I think it's really a misplaced effort," Churkin told reporters.

He said that the "only credible thing" the investigators had found was that ISIS used mustard gas on one occasion in 2015.

As for the three attacks allegedly carried out by the Syrian government, Churkin had previously noted that Damascus should launch its own national investigation.

Russia is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad and has been conducting an aerial campaign in Syria for more than a year in support of his regime.

The use of chemical weapons in Syria was banned by a UN Security Council resolution in 2013.