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Russia suggests setting up UN Independent Mechanism of Investigation for Syria

January 24, 3:14 UTC+3

The mission will have a one-year mandate with the possibility of extension

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©  Nigel Treblin/Getty Images

UN, January 24. /TASS/. In its draft UN Security Council resolution, Russia suggested setting up an international investigative body for Syrian chemical weapons probe with a one-year mandate, under the name United Nations Independent Mechanism of Investigation (UNIMI).

The draft resolution, obtained by TASS, suggests establishing "the United Nations Independent Mechanism of Investigation (UNIMI) for a period of one year" with "a possibility of further extension and update by the Security Council if it deems necessary."

The aim of the commission’s work will be "to identify beyond reasonable doubt facts which may lead to the attribution by the Security Council of the involvement in the use of chemicals as weapons, including chlorine or any other toxic chemical, in the Syrian Arab Republic."

If the resolution is accepted, the new investigative mechanism will be charged with conducting "a truly impartial, independent, professional and credible" investigation of chemical incidents on the basis of "credible, verified and corroborated evidence, collected in the course of on-site visits."

The commission’s activities should be guided by high standards established by the Chemical Weapons Convention and use all types of techniques during its investigation, including collection of samples and questioning of eyewitnesses.

The draft also says that the Security Council will then "thoroughly assess the UNIMI’s conclusions."

Russia’s UN envoy, Vasily Nebenzya, said UN Security Council members will be given "sufficient time" to study the draft resolution.

"We said that we would give Security Council members sufficient time to study the project, so that consultations on the expert level could later begin," he said.

The diplomat said that discussions on the Russian initiative may take place on Thursday or Friday, but nothing was scheduled yet.

If the Russian initiative is approved, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and OPCW Director General Ahmed Uzumcu will have 30 days for preparing their recommendations regarding the commission’s objectives, mandate and makeup.

The new investigative mission is intended to replace the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) in Syria, whose mandate expired on December 18, 2017.

The JIM was set up by a UN Security Council resolution in August 2015 to identify those responsible for chemical attacks in Syria. The Joint Investigative Mechanism issued seven reports holding the Syrian government responsible for four chemical attacks.

The United Nations Security Council members failed to agree on the extension of its mandate as Russia, which has repeatedly criticized the JIM for its unprofessional work, has thrice vetoed relevant draft resolutions.

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