By Hajer M'tiri
Foreign ministers and diplomats from 24 countries endorsed on Tuesday a set of commitments aimed at strengthening cooperation in the fight against chemical weapons amid reports of a suspected attack using such prohibited arms in Syria.
The commitment to the new plan, initiated by France, was made during a conference on International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons in Paris.
Under the partnership, which does not replace existing international mechanisms, countries will share information on the subject and compile lists of people involved in the use of chemical weapons.
"The current situation cannot continue," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
"Confronted with the recent banalization of the proliferation and use of these odious weapons…we have a duty to act. On this will we be judged in history.
"Last year on 4 April in Syria, more that 80 people, including women and children died after being attacked with a powerful neurotoxin … four years earlier, 2,000 Syrians were gassed in Ghouta with sarin.”
He added: "There have been over a hundred allegations of the use of chemical weapons, mostly in Syria but also in Iraq and Malaysia" in recent years.
"Those who are guilty of using chemical weapons should be aware that we know who they are and that prosecutions will not be abandoned."
Le Drian vowed that "the criminals who have used and designed these barbaric weapons must know that they will not go unpunished."
As part of the partnership, a website has been launched. It compiles a list with all the names of the individuals and entities that have been sanctioned by the participating countries -- in particular the United States, the European Union and France- for their role in chemical attacks in the development of chemical programs.
The sanctions measures will be decided on the legal basis of each participating country.
Le Drian called on the 192 that already have ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention to publicly endorse the principles laid down in the declaration and join the partnership.
Links to the partnership and the website are:
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