MESOP Syria’s Toxic War: Chemical Weapons Are Undermining Deterrence & Nonproliferation” (Rebecca Hersman, War on the Rocks)

“Efforts have been underway to attribute these attacks and ensure better accountability, but the slow pace and lack of international attention has does little to spur on the process. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations established a one-year Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) to identify actors perpetrating, organizing, or sponsoring the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The JIM has reviewed data from its initial fact-finding mission and identified seven potential cases for further investigation. The team will split into two groups later this month. Security permitting, they will conduct field visits to Syria.

On March 9, 2016, the United States conducted airstrikes against targets associated with ISIL’s chemical weapons program based on intelligence and information from a captured ISIL operative who was reportedly a key player in the group’s chemical weapons program. These are major steps, but insufficient in stopping the continued use of chemical weapons. With access and support, the JIM can make vital steps toward attribution and accountability, and ultimately toward justice. If the JIM can gain access to patients, eyewitnesses, environmental and biological samples, and munition remnants, then many questions can be answered. This is a relatively small but essential step if we are to have any hope of preventing the reemergence of chemical weapons as routine tools of warfare. The JIM cannot succeed without the vocal support, assistance, and participation — indeed outrage — of the security and humanitarian communities. But many challenges remain.” Read all