THE UNITED NATIONS’ CHEMICAL WEAPONS INSPECTION PROGRAMME AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION: CASE OF SYRIA

THE UNITED NATIONS’ CHEMICAL WEAPONS INSPECTION PROGRAMME AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION: CASE OF SYRIA

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle require creative imagination and marks real advance in science – Albert Einstein

1.1BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

It is often said that conflict is a major characteristic of human daily activities. It is an innate feature, one that cannot be avoided but can be mitigated to prevent violence and grave consequences. According to Rambotham et al (2011), conflict takes its origins from economic differentiation, social change, cultural formation, psychological development and political organization – all of which are inherently conflictual – and becomes overt through the formation of conflict parties, which come to have, or are perceived to have, mutually incompatible goals. Conflict can be constructive or destructive depending on how it is addressed. Constructive conflict can have valuable outcome on human society while destructive conflict can result to damages and loss. Fisher et al(2011) opined that conflict can be addressed through different approaches-given the different dimensions of conflict-which are sometimes linked; conflict prevention, conflict settlement, conflict management, conflict resolution and conflict management.

Conflict resolution, as stated above is one of the approaches to dealing with conflict and a comprehensive one. Wallenstein (2011) defined conflict resolution as a situation where the conflicting parties enter into an agreement that solves their central incompatibilities, accept each other‘s continued existence as parties and cease all violent action against each other. This means, of course, that conflict resolution is something that necessarily comes after conflict. Fisher et al (2011) opined that conflict resolution addresses the causes of conflict and seeks to build new and lasting relationships between hostile groups. This means a conflict resolution process is often towards putting an end to armed struggle, it also means that conflicts are resolved and transformed to workable peace among the conflicting parties.

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The United Nations’ chemical weapons inspection programme and conflict

2015

resolution: case of Syria

Saving generations from the scourge of war is the mantra upon which the United Nations (UN) operates, and as a result of this it is a central organization in peacekeeping and conflict resolution operations within the international system. Following the events of 9/11, it has committed itself to fighting against terrorism while taking steps towards reducing the stockpile and use of chemical weapons. This is based on its affirmation that the proliferation of chemical weapons, as well as their means of delivery, constitutes a threat to international peace and security (S/Res/2118/2013). Given this submission, a violation of this act of international law would warrant great penalty on the state(s) involved, and such is the case of Syria.

In order to take a grasp of activities of states with large stockpile of weapons and use of such, the UN establishes a mission for each state to investigate presence and use of chemical weapons. An understanding of these weapons inspections missions can be drawn by referring to what Condoleezza Rice (former U.S national security advisor) said in an interview as regards Iraq in March 2002,

We need to be very clear on the purpose of weapons inspections. These are not inspections for inspections’ sake, they are instrumental to make sure that Iraq is not trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction and so when we focus on weapons inspections in Iraq, we are to focus on weapons inspections that would be effective… ultimately, U.S believed that regime change is going to be best for the Iraq people and for the region. But clearly weapons inspections that are tough, weapons inspections that cannot be challenged, weapons inspections in which Saddam Hussein is not trying to soften the edges of them would be a helpful step forward”. (PBS Newshour, March 11, 2002)

In this regard, the establishment of a UN mission in Syria was to identify the presence of chemical weapons as well as to verify with adequate information and resources the allegations of the use of such weapons against citizens.

The immediate trigger of the Syrian uprising was the power shift that occurred as a result of the Arab Spring, the first of which occurred in Tunisia, then Egypt, weeks later Libya, Yemen and Syria had their own crisis (Chatham House, 2012). The Syrian demonstrators had strong motives for their discontent with the regime. After five decades of the rule of the Baath Party, the Syrians

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The United Nations’ chemical weapons inspection programme and conflict

2015

resolution: case of Syria

were fed up with the rampant corruption and nepotism, and the lack of civil and political liberties. After a decade in power, Bashar al-Assad attempted to reform the regime, but the turnout was limited. He introduced a set of economic liberal reforms that benefited the upper class, and mainly those who were close to the regime (Wakim, 2012). The Syrian civil war was caused by many factors, whether local, regional, or international, which interacted to destabilize the Syrian regime. This rebellion was caused by the need of the Syrian people for economic, civic, and political rights, and it happened at a time when the whole Arab region was subject to drastic changes. The conflict in Syria therefore gradually transitioned from an insurgency to a civil war during the summer of 2012. During the first year of the conflict, Bashar al-Assad relied on his father‘s counterinsurgency approach, developed in response to the Muslim Brotherhood uprising in the early 1980s. Counterinsurgency describes a government‘s campaign to restore order and ensure its own reach throughout the geographical confines of the state against armed opponents who aim at the government‘s overthrow. In this case, counterinsurgency describes the Assad regime‘s attempts to regain control over the whole of its territory, an objective it abandoned by the fall of 2012. By contrast, civil war implies that controlling the entire territory within the state is no longer feasible because armed opposition has become strong enough to stop government advances consistently (Holliday, 2013).

While the war was on, officials from other governments had expressed concern about Syria‘s chemical weapons security and the Syrian government had in early 2012 assured that ―chemical or biological weapons will never be used … in the Syrian crisis, no matter what the internal developments in this crisis are‖. That all varieties of these weapons are stored and secured by the Syrian armed forces and under its direct supervision, and will not be used unless Syria is subjected to external aggression.‖ But then, the events between March and August 2013 was a departure from the assurance given by the Syrian government, as within the space of these months, 16 cases of alleged use of chemical weapon in Syria were reported to the UN by member-states. The UN Secretary-General (Ban Ki-Moon) decided to establish the United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic (―UN Mission‖). The purpose of this Mission was to ascertain the facts related to the allegations of use of chemical weapons, to gather relevant data, to undertake the necessary analyses for this purpose, and to deliver a report to the Secretary-General. Upon the completion

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The United Nations’ chemical weapons inspection programme and conflict

2015

resolution: case of Syria

of the assignment of the mission on 30th September, 2013, the derived conclusion was that chemical weapon had been used in Syria in all the incidents reported with the use of precursor like Sarin and rocket-induced chemicals. The conclusions rest on multiple types of samples, victim interviews, investigation of munitions remnants and lab analyses.

Subsequently, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S Secretary of State John Kerry greed on a Framework on the elimination of Syria‘s chemical warfare capacity, stating that production equipment should be destroyed by November 2013 and complete elimination of chemical weapon materials and equipment in the first half of 2014 (30th June, 2014) (The Newyorktimes,September,14,


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