The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines said on Monday that it is alarmed at the recent allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syrian but warmed against premature military intervention.
The United States says it has irrefutable evidence that chemical weapons were used by the Bashar al-Assad administration.
It said the weapons resulting in the deaths of nearly, 1500 people including more than 400 children last month.
The Barack Obama administration has promised to military retaliation and is awaiting a confidence vote by the U.S. Congress for its impending action.
But the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement read by acting foreign secretary, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, said that Kingstown “remains deeply concerned” with the spiralling humanitarian crisis in Syria and neighbouring states.
Gonsalves read the statement at a press conference on Monday, noting that the mounting death toll in the two-year-old civil war is estimated to exceed the entire population of SVG: 100,000.
He said the reports of the use of chemical weapons, if independently verified, “would represent an abhorrent and reprehensible development in the Syrian civil war”.
He noted that SVG is a party to the 1925 Geneva Protocol and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), both of which ban the use of chemical weapons.
“As such, we stand unambiguously with the civilized nations of the world in condemning any and all uses of such weapons as a gross violation of international law.
“If a single example of the use of chemical weapons in Syria can be confirmed, St. Vincent and the Grenadines calls for a clear determination of the individuals involved in carrying out such heinous acts, and for these individuals to be tried as war criminals to face the full weight of international law,” Gonsalves said.
He said that his government “notes with concern” the recent attempts by many Western countries to use the alleged deployment of chemical weapons in the Syria as a basis upon which to initiate an external military strike on the Arab nation.
“At the present time, the Government of SVG considers such action to be, at best, premature. Such a military strike — whatever its tactical nature — does not currently have an established factual or legal basis, and would itself represent a violation of international law and a subversion of the multilateral processes that govern the conduct of nations,” he said.
Gonsalves said that that while international protocol ban the use of chemical weapons they do not authorizes countries to attack other states that violate these treaties.
“It has never been the case that third states or groups of states can take it upon themselves to punish countries with military force for the violations of any treaty provision.
“Unless a state is acting in individual or collective self-defence, the only body that can authorize preventative, punitive or coercive military action is the United Nations Security Council,” Gonsalves noted.
He further said that to date, the U.N. Security Council has not authorised such action.
He said that some countries cannot cite the Security Council’s reluctance to authorize military action as the basis to act without a Security Council mandate.
“Such an argument would render the Security Council irrelevant and the United Nations Charter meaningless,” Gonsalves said.
He further said that his administration urges governments that favour immediate military intervention to reconsider “their stated position that the possible use of the veto by the Russian Federation in this instance requires other western states to act independently in disregard of the explicit provisions of the United Nations Charter.
“The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines notes, also, that military action is being contemplated without (a) independent confirmation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria and (b) a clear determination of which party or parties authorised and deployed the weapons in violation of international law (assuming that the use of the weapons is established).
“The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is mindful of recent instances in which military action was justified on the basis of deeply flawed intelligence assessments regarding the presence of chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
“Accordingly, the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines urges those states currently contemplating military action against Syria to exercise patience and respect the multilateral processes that are in place to govern precisely such eventualities.
Gonsalves said that his government urges states to refrain from the use of military force until the following provisions are met:
1. The team of United Nations inspectors are allowed to complete their report on the use of chemical weapons in Syria and report to the U.N. Security Council in accordance with their mandate
2. The availability of compelling evidence that the Syrian regime was responsible for the use of chemical weapons, if such usage is in fact confirmed by the U.N. inspectors
3. Explicit authorization for military action by the U.N. Security Council, or, in the alternative, a clear explanation of the legal basis for a military strike in this instance
4. A clear explanation of the goals and scope of any proposed military action, including a legitimate roadmap for the role of the international community before and after any such military action.