India voted in favour of a Russian-Chinese proposal on Syria at a session of the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). However, the proposal was rejected.
At the 23rd session of the Conference of the States Parties to the OPCW which concluded on November 20, India supported the proposal to establish a working group to consider proposals related to the implementation of a decision on an attribution mechanism on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The mechanism allows blame to be assigned for attacks in which banned chemicals are used.
India at the same time abstained on the overall budget proposal of OPCW for 2019, stating that despite the absence of consensus on the attribution mechanism, it was doing so because of its abiding support for the OPCW.
Permanent Representative of India to OPCW, Ambassador Venu Rajamony, said India attaches high importance to the Chemical Weapons Convention and stands for its full, effective and non-discriminatory implementation. He said India voted in favour of the proposal by Russia and China because it believes setting up a working group could help rebuild consensus and overcome divisions over the attribution mechanism.
India had earlier voted against the decision to set up an attribution mechanism, saying it had adversely impacted a finely balanced cooperative structure that brought together various policy making organs and a technical secretariat headed by the Director General. It said unprecedented powers had been endowed upon the technical secretariat headed by the Director General in place of primacy and oversight of the executive council and the Conference of the States Parties.
India has always emphasised the importance of consensus and the need for decisions to be taken by the states parties in consultation with each other. On the Programme and Budget for 2019, Rajamony said India is committed to supporting the OPCW carry out the tasks entrusted upon it by the convention as well as enabling it to do so by providing requisite funds.
India supported the amendments proposed by Iran to the budget proposal because it felt that the ‘zero nominal growth’ budget would have obtained the support of all parties even as the States Parties continue to seek the way forward on the attribution mechanism.
The Russian-Chinese proposal was rejected with 82 votes against and 30 in favour out of 112 state parties. The programme and budget for OPCW was adopted with 99 in favour and 27 against out of 126 states’ parties present at voting.