Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Crisis in Syria



Download PDFDownload PDF

PRIME MINISTER

CRISIS IN SYRIA

The Australian Government is deeply concerned about the allegations that chemical weapons have been used in Damascus, killing hundreds of people.

Australia strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons by any party.

The escalating crisis in Syria is a tragedy of unspeakable proportions. The United Nations (UN) estimates that over 100,000 people have lost their lives and approximately two million refugees have fled to neighbouring countries.

The Prime Minister today spoke with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to express Australia’s grave concern at recent developments, including the alleged chemical attacks on civilians, and to discuss what next steps the international community should consider in response to this crisis.

The Prime Minister welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to deploy his High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms Angela Kane, to travel to Damascus immediately.

The Prime Minister offered the Secretary-General Australia’s support for an immediate and thorough investigation into recent reports of chemical weapons use.

Australia calls on the Syrian Government to respond positively to the Secretary-General’s call for cooperation and that it provide full and unfettered access to UN inspectors currently in Damascus.

Australia and other members of the United Nations Security Council agree that any use of chemical weapons would violate international law and constitute a crime against humanity. Those responsible would need to be held to account.

As a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) Australia will continue to consult with other members of the international community on appropriate steps to address this crisis.

Australia has consistently opposed the use of chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, including through support of the Chemical Weapons Convention, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND) and the cross-regional Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI).

As part of its efforts, Australia chairs the ‘Australia Group’, an informal grouping of countries that seek to minimise the risk of assisting chemical and biological weapons proliferation. All states participating in the ‘Australia Group’ are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention and strongly support efforts under those Conventions to rid the world of chemical and

biological weapons.

MELBOURNE 23 AUGUST 2013

PRESS OFFICE (02) 6277 7744