Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Letter of the Day | Chemical warfare

Published:Thursday | April 12, 2018 | 12:00 AM


"To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all." Elie Wiesel

We live in dangerous times. Evil is everywhere and what is considered a threat for one government is considered as a means of survival for another regime. In spite of legally binding international treaties and conventions, the world has witnessed at least two instances of what experts estimate to be chemical warfare since the start of 2018. The first such case occurred in England, and the most recent one was in Syria. It can be debated that the attack in England was the first chemical warfare in post-World War II Europe, in which a former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned in Britain's southwestern city of Salisbury, England.

The more recent nerve agent attack occurred in the Middle East, more specifically in Syria, where the ongoing civil war has all but brought this country to her knees under the repressive regime of President Assad, who is supported by both Russia and Iran. The unmistakably fact is the use of chemical weapons is banned in war under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), formally, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction. The CWC was adopted by the United Nations (UN) Conference on Disarmament on September 3, 1992, and became into force on April 29, 1997. In Article 11 of the CWC, chemical weapons are defined as all toxic chemicals intended for wartime use, which includes not only the finished weapons, but also their chemical precursors, munitions, delivery devices, and any other equipment designed for wartime use. The aim of the CWC is total chemical weapons disarmament. Signatory states possessing chemical weapons, once ratifying the convention, must destroy all chemical weapons and such facilities.


UN Less Relevant


We have seen the United Nations becoming less and less relevant over the years as wars continue to rage and nations continue to flout international law and their relationships. Consequently, we have witnessed more and more piranha states becoming emboldened, since such nation states are very much aware that the chances of them being held accountable for committing such grave actions of crimes against humanity is minuscule.

There is a clear vacuum of leadership regarding decency, international law and order. The inaction of those who should provide leadership does not lessen such a responsibility and does not make the world any safer. What is required in 2018 in the face of evil is bold and responsibility leadership. The United Nations Security Council, as well as the wider international community, has failed miserably the innocent women, children and men who are at the mercy of despots who will go to any lengths to ensure the survival of their blood stained legacy. In the words of Simon Wiesenthal, justice for crimes against humanity must have no limitations.

Wayne Campbell