Let UN take the lead

Updated: 2013-09-18 07:49

(China Daily)

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The report by United Nations inspectors confirming that chemical weapons have been used in Syria seems to have only intensified the bickering between the United States and Russia.

On Monday, UN weapons inspectors said they had "clear and convincing" evidence that the nerve gas sarin had been used against civilians in a suburb of Damascus last month. But with the identity of the culprit still unknown, as the UN inspectors did not point a finger at anyone, it would be more meaningful if greater efforts were made to quicken steps toward a political resolution to the crisis in Syria under the framework of the UN, so that there are no more attacks using chemical weapons and a lasting peace can be achieved in the strife-torn country.

The international community should take the findings of the inspectors as a new beginning and rally behind the UN, as it is both welcome and encouraging development that the main world body responsible for maintaining international peace and security is once again center stage and leading international efforts to resolve the Syria crisis in peace.

As US President Barack Obama has not entirely ruled out unilateral military action against the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, the reinstatement of the UN in the leading role might be the last chance for the world to head off the undesirable scenario of yet another unauthorized foreign intervention into a sovereign state.

China firmly opposes and strongly condemns any use of chemical weapons, and has joined the world community in condemning with one voice what happened in Syria on Aug 21, as it is a horrendous act that constitutes a severe violation of international law. But a US-led air strike against Syria without UN authorization would be another.

The priority now is to build on Saturday's agreement between Russia and the United States, and for the UN to chart an effective and workable course of action to dismantle Syria's chemical-weapons arsenal as soon as possible. Considering the chaotic situation in Syria, this will not be easy.

To create the necessary conditions to complete this daunting task, both the Syrian government and the opposition forces should guarantee "immediate and unfettered" access to ensure international experts can safely take control of Syria's chemical weapons and safely destroy them.

Meanwhile, the international community should continue, in conjunction with the chemical weapons disarmament process, seeking an immediate end to the violence and bloodshed in Syria.

(China Daily 09/18/2013 page8)