Iran-Iraq Conflict; Chemical Weapons Use Condemned in Security Council

UN Chronicle, September 1988 | Go to article overview

Iran-Iraq Conflict; Chemical Weapons Use Condemned in Security Council


The Security Council on 9 May vigorously condemned the continued use of chemical weapons in the conflict between Iran and Iraq, contrary to obligations under the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibiting the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous and other gases, and of bacteriological methods of warfare.

In unanimously adopting resolution 612 (1988), the Council also expressed its expectation that both sides would "refrain from the future use of chemical weapons in accordance with their obligations under the Geneva Protocol".

Under the text (S/19869)-put forward by the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy and Japan-States were called upon to "continue to apply or to establish strict control of the export to the parties to the conflict of chemical products serving for the production of chemical weapons".

The Council affirmed the urgent necessity of strict observance of the Geneva Protocol. It decided to remain seized of the matter and expressed its determination to review the implementation of resolution 612.

The Council acted after reviewing a 14 April report of a mission sent by Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar to investigate allegations of the Governments of both Iran and Iraq of the use of chemical weapons in the conflict. The mission found that chemical weapons had again been used in both Iran and in Iraq and that there had been an apparent increase in the number of civilian casualties.

Awesome prospect

The Secretary-General said that such use could further escalate and seriously undermine the 1925 Geneva Protocol-a document which for 60 years "has been a hopeful symbol of mankind's desire and its ability to mitigate the effects of war through universal adherence to humanitarian concerns". That was an "awesome prospect", which the international community must resolve through concrete steps and, above all, "concerted exercise of determined political will to prevent it from becoming a reality".

The mission consisted of a medical specialist-Dr. Manuel Dominguez, a colonel in the Spanish Army Medical Corps, a specialist in nuclear, biological and chemical weapons injuries and professor of preventive medicine at Madrid's Universidad Complutense and James Holder, a senior United Nations official, who ensured liaison with Iranian and Iraqi authorities. …

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