Great Britain, France, Germany and the USA, together with Belgium and Estonia, prevented the first director of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Brazilian diplomat José Bustani, from attending the UN Security Council in New York on Monday afternoon (local time) was allowed to talk. The subject of the debate was “Progress in the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program”, the main speaker was the UN commissioner for disarmament, Izumi Nakamitsu, who presented her monthly report.
Bustani had been invited by the Russian UN Ambassador Vasily Nebensja – who will hold the Security Council Chairmanship in October – to speak about the OPCW and its work in Syria. This was based on the rules of procedure, according to which the chairman and the council can invite guests and speakers to meetings of the body.
After it became known on Friday that Bustani was to attend the meeting, the Russian diplomat received a letter on Saturday in which Great Britain, Estonia, Belgium, Germany, France and the US announced that they opposed Bustani’s speech. “If you are against it, say that out loud in the Security Council,” Nebensja explained his answer. It was a sad day in the history of the Security Council, said the diplomat after the meeting: “We have set a precedent. A speaker who was supposed to inform the Security Council was voted down, that has never happened before. “
The representative of China accused the EU and US diplomats of using double standards. Nobody has ever prevented them from inviting speakers to the Security Council, especially not if they had qualifications and experience, like Bustani.
Anyone who watched the two and a half hour debate witnessed arrogant remarks by the ambassadors of Great Britain, France and Germany. Among other things, they accused Nebensja of ignorance of the rules of procedure, twisting the facts, pursuing Russian interests in the matter and conducting propaganda. The representative of Estonia and the Ambassador of Belgium largely agreed. US Ambassador Kelly Craft said “the additional speaker” had been “removed from OPCW 2002”. He has nothing to do with the current topic.
Bustani was OPCW’s first general director from 1997 to 2002. In 2002, he was threatened by the United States to leave office. He had previously ordered transparent investigations into the alleged chemical weapons depots in Iraq – and had become an obstacle to the attack on the country. Claims from Washington and London that Baghdad had chemical weapons was just a pretext to invade Iraq. It is now known that weapons of mass destruction did not exist in the country.
In 2018 and 2019, former, experienced OPCW inspectors disclosed inconsistencies and errors in the official final report on chemical weapons allegedly used by Syrian forces in an attack on the Duma east of Damascus in April 2018. The United States, Great Britain and France used the Duma case as an opportunity to launch extensive attacks on Syria. The results of the initiated OPCW investigations were not awaited.
Bustani’s declaration, prevented by the leading representatives of the Western “community of values” on Monday, was nevertheless recorded and published. The diplomat expressed his deep concern about the development of the organization to ban chemical weapons, which he had played a key role in building in the 1990s.
Since 2019 he has been dealing with the Duma report, which raises many questions. OPCW inspectors who were on site would also have raised these questions. But the pressure from some member states is affecting the organization in its impartial, important work. According to Bustani, the inspectors had “had the courage to address the possibly illegal behavior” of the OPCW “at great personal risk. It must be in the interests of the organization and the world that their doubts be noted. “Listening to its own inspectors would be an important step in repairing the organization’s damaged reputation,” says Bustani.