In what surely must be one of the most tasteless and ill-advised moves – even for the UN – the world-body declared on April 9 that Syria, from next month, will chair the UN disarmament forum, the body that produced the treaty banning chemical weapons. This comes on the heels of the alleged chemical weapons-attack against Douma, close to Damascus on April 7. Clear evidence of an attack has surfaced and the only possible perpetrator is, once again, the Syrian regime.
The 65-nation body, based in Geneva, also negotiated the NPT-treaty, considered a corner-stone of the non-proliferation and disarmament work.
The Assad-regime has used chemical weapons on several earlier occasions before, and last year, triggered the U.S. to fire a batch of cruise-missiles against the site from where those attacks originated.
This time, Assad’s ally Russia once again stepped into the fray and first declared that there was no attack at all, such a brazen lie that it inadvertently sounded like a new incarnation of ‘Baghdad-Bob’. Secondly and more serious, Russia also declared that any missiles fired against Syria would be shot down.
If the UN goes ahead with letting Syria chairing the forum, it will do irreparable damage to the world-body. It’s bad enough that Syria is even being considered (the UN is blaming the normal rooster for the blunder) at the same time that the regime in Damascus time and time again has used banned chemical weapons against his own people. What is equally bad is the fact that these serial crimes has met next to no pushback from the international community.
That Russia willingly is playing the role of the villain here and protecting its protégé Assad is perhaps not so strange. After all, Russian President is no stranger to the old adage; the ends justify the means.
But that a major UN-body so thoroughly seems to have lost its moral bearing is embarrassing, to put it mildly.
The chairman of the memorial Yad Vashem in Jerusalem neatly summed up the present state of affairs in a statement when he pointed out that “The terrible scenes we are witnessing, right across our border, are a result of the world's indifference, which enables them to keep occurring,". He also said that “The recent chemical attack in Syria shows that the safeguards established after the Holocaust to prevent crimes against humanity are failing”. One can only hope that some common sense is still an available commodity at the UN HQ in Geneva or New York and that the decision to have Syria chairing the forum is reversed.