Today, on June 26, 2018, the 192 members of the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) are convening at the Chemical Weapons Convention (OPCW) in the Hague for the Fourth Special Session of the Conference of States Parties. In this occasion, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has joined twenty other human rights and humanitarian groups in a coalition established to ask members states to strengthen the treaty and ensure accountability.
WILPF, as a peace and anti-militarist organisation, has opposed the development of technology for killing since our founding in 1915. Since WILPF’s first engagement in Syria in 2012, we have worked to support Syrian women’s efforts towards feminist movement building, addressing the root causes of conflict as well as its disproportionate impact on women and girls.
The escalation of violence has had devastating consequences for the civilian population, in addition to strengthening patriarchal and fundamentalist values. The increased militarisation and the reinforcement of patriarchal control and power structures is incompatible with equal rights and building peace and has huge gendered implications both inside Syria and the refugee host communities.
Despite allegedly disposing of all the country’s stockpile, the Syrian regime has continued to target civilian population with chemical agents. Following the August 21, 2013, sarin attack on Ghouta, at least 85 confirmed chemical attacks have taken place in the country. Chemical weapons are inherently indiscriminate, and using them constitutes a war crime. The situation in Syria is emblematic of a wider problem with the OPCW’s capacity to ensure compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention. For this reasons, we have joined other organisations to demand that member states take concrete steps towards ending the cycle of impunity of those using chemical weapons and start attributing blame for chemical attacks in Syria.
Human Rights Watch Press release: https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/06/19/safeguard-chemical-weapons-treaty.