Canadian Leadership in Addressing Syrian Crisis

April 7, 2013 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today announced that Canada is providing real leadership to help address the effects of raging crisis in Syria. Canada is extending credit of up to $2 million to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The Canadian contribution will make possible the investigation announced recently by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon into alleged chemical weapons use in Syria.

“Assad has plunged his country into chaos and is ultimately responsible for any use of chemical weapons that occurs on Syrian territory,” said Baird. “We continue to warn the Syrian regime, and all parties in the Syrian conflict, against any use of chemical agents.”

The OPCW will use Canada’s contribution to purchase equipment and support its verification of the alleged chemical weapons use, as well as its protection of and assistance to neighbouring states. The Canadian contribution is already being used to assist the OPCW as it makes necessary logistical arrangements to support the UN investigation.

Canada continues to call on Assad to end the violence, relinquish power and allow a transition to a stable, democratic, pluralistic Syria that lives in peace with its neighbours.

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A backgrounder follows.

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Backgrounder

Canada has repeatedly expressed its concern regarding the threat posed by Syria’s chemical weapons program, including the possibility that these weapons could be used by the Syrian regime against its own people or fall into the hands of terrorists.

In January 2013, through its Global Partnership Program, Canada contributed $2 million to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). These funds were provided to enable the OPCW to investigate an alleged chemical weapons use in Syria if requested to do so by the UN Secretary-General. Such a request was made, as announced by the UN Secretary-General on March 21, 2013.

Canada’s contribution will support activities of the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW. These activities include:

  • the investigation of alleged use of chemical weapons;
  • provision of direct emergency and/or supplementary assistance and protection to OPCW neighbouring States Parties against the use or threat of use of chemical weapons;
  • and the provision of legal and technical support to facilitate accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

OPCW

The OPCW is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The OPCW has been given the mandate to achieve the objective and purpose of the Convention, to ensure the implementation of its provisions (including those for international verification of compliance), and to provide a forum for consultation and cooperation among States Parties. The Technical Secretariat of the OPCW is responsible for the day-to-day administration and implementation of the Convention, including verification of chemical weapons destruction activities. In addition to the normal responsibilities of the Secretariat, it is given particular responsibilities to undertake further duties with respect to the provision of assistance to States Parties, such as the provision of technical assistance and technical evaluation to States Parties in the implementation of the provisions of the Convention. At the request of the UN Secretary General, the OPCW can also support investigations of alleged use of chemical weapons in a non-State Party, such as Syria.