A Disappointing Lack of Details

The recently released report of the United Nations’ Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (here) is disappointingly vague.  After Carla del Ponte‘s remarks last month indicating evidence of rebel use of chemical weapons, the report’s cautious statement in paragraphs 137-139 (“The Government has in its possession a number of chemical weapons…  It is possible that anti-Government armed groups may access and use chemical weapons… though there is no compelling evidence that these groups possess such weapons or their requisite delivery systems…  It has not been possible, on the evidence available, to determine the precise chemical agents used, their delivery systems or the perpetrator.”) are a let-down, with no discussion of evidence paralleling the discussion of evidence for massacres and sexual violence earlier in the report.  While it is good that the commission is cautious in drawing conclusions from problematic evidence (as there are always suspicions in these cases that the commission’s conclusions will be unfair and biased), a more complete and factual report of the specific evidence weighed for chemical weapons would have been more useful for international diplomatic decisions.  Failing that, some explanation from del Ponte regarding why her earlier remarks are not born out by the official report would be very welcome, given how significantly timed those remarks were.

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