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The Erosion of the International Ban on Chemical Weapons: The Khan Shaykhun Attack Case—Challenges and Perspectives for the Chemical Weapons Convention

  • Maurizio MartelliniEmail author
  • Ralf Trapp
Conference paper

Abstract

The Sarin attack of 4 April 2017 on Khan Shaykhun signals a lowering of the threshold against the use of chemical weapons in asymmetric warfare and a weakening of the norm against the use of chemical weapons. This “reflection paper” explores some of the difficulties that investigations of such incidents face, in particular when it comes to attributing responsibility. It highlights the limits inherent in the compliance mechanisms of international treaty regimes such as the Chemical Weapons Convention, as well as of export control regimes and UN sanctions, and argues instead in favor of soft measures and/or innovative restrain mechanisms in the form of a “catch-all regime” building on a partnership of responsible governments, industry, nongovernmental organizations, and other relevant players. The paper suggests an informal discourse between government experts, experts from industry, and competent academic/nongovernmental organizations, to discuss what types of “soft restraint” measures might be acceptable and could actually work.

Keywords

Chemical weapons Prohibition of use Prevention Nonproliferation Chemical Weapons Convention Syria 

Notes

Acknowledgments

One of the authors (M. Martellini) would like to acknowledge the exchange of ideas with John Walker, Milton Leitenberg, Rod Barton, and Reid Kirby.

Disclaimers

The ideas and contents of this article are only the views of the authors and not of the organizers or institutions of SICC2017.

References

  1. 1.
    United Nations Human Right Council: Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. General Assembly document A/HRC/36/55 (2017)Google Scholar
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    OPCW Note by the Technical Secretariat: Status Update of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission in Syria Regarding a Reported Incident in Khan Shaykhun, 4 April 2017. OPCW document s/1497/2017 (2017)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    United Nations Security Council: Seventh Report of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism. Enclosure of UN document S/2017/904 (2017)Google Scholar
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    Deutsch, A.: After UN Veto, Russia Moves Against Chemical Weapons Watchdog. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-chemicalweapons/after-u-n-veto-russia-moves-against-chemical-weapons-watchdog-idUSKBN1DL1UF. Accessed 26 Nov 2017
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    OPCW Note by the Technical Secretariat: Summary Update on the Activities Carried Out by the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission in Syria in 2017. OPCW document S/1556/2017 (2017)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Landau Network Centro VoltaComoItaly
  2. 2.Insubria Center on International SecurityComoItaly
  3. 3.ChessenazFrance

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