Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Point of order by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on the Syrian chemical file (resolution 2118)


We would like to put on record our strong objection to the presence of Coordinator of the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team S. Oñate at this meeting. We see no reason for his participation, taking into account the fact that a number of UNSC members do not recognize this mechanism as legitimate.

Besides, Mr. Oñate’s participation is clearly excessive, because we already have two agreed briefers for today – Director-General of OPCW F.Arias, as well as Under-Secretary-General I.Nakamitsu.  We believe that Mr. Arias, as head of a specialized international agency, must have full information about the operation of the organization under his lead, including technical details, and be politically accountable for what he reports to the Council during his briefing. We expect that this is what he is going to do today, without shifting responsibility to his subordinates. Neither the Presidency, nor our Western colleagues who called for having Mr. Oñate as a briefer, provided any coherent explanation why Coordinator of the IIT, whose position as we understand does not rank among the leading OPCW posts should participate in a Security Council meeting as a briefer on par with his senior officer. Does this imply that DG Arias is not able to answer to questions of member states and shall need “expert back-up”? Or is he afraid of addressing the UNSC by himself (even via VTC) after more than 6 months of evasion? This does not add to the reputation of the OPCW Technical Secretariat.

We also have serious questions to the Presidency in this connection. Unfortunately, the Presidency violated the act-by-consensus practice and in fact, openly sided with Western delegations who requested to have Mr. Oñate as a briefer, while ignoring the concerns and constructive proposals of other Council members.

We can understand perfectly well why Western delegations insist on having Mr. Oñate as a briefer today. But we are up against turning the Security Council into a stage for political shows. This already happened to the OPCW following the will of Western delegations and given complete connivance of the OPCW leadership. We must not let the same thing happen to the Security Council.

Of course, we are not going to talk to Mr. Oñate, ask him questions, or react to his remarks either in this open briefing or during closed consultations. We call on the other Council members to adopt the same principled position on this issue.

Thank you.