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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

World has learned 'too little' from past, says Ban on Day of Remembrance for chemical warfare victims

29 April 2015 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has marked the Day of Remembrance for All Victims of Chemical Warfare with a strong appeal for a new future without such weapons, saying 'the world has learned too little from the past – at the expense of innocent people whose lives have been destroyed by chemical attacks."

Recalling that the 100th anniversary of the first time chemical weapons were used on a large scale on a Belgian battlefield, Mr. Ban said "the events in Ypres in 1915 should be a distant memory – but the frightening truth is we are still grappling with the inhumane and indiscriminate effects of chemical weapons today."

The UN Secretary-General reminded the world about the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria that served as a shocking wake-up call to the international community about the continuing threat posed by these inhumane weapons.

"The horrific images of the victims of chemical weapons in Syria should continue to haunt us all," Mr. Ban said in this year's message, marking the annual Day of Remembrance, observed on 29 April each year – the date in 1997 on which the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force.

The Secretary-General declared it "an outrage that 90 years after the 1925 Geneva Protocol and nearly 20 years after the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention the list of those we mourn on this Day only grows longer."

As such, there is no more meaningful way to collectively honour the victims of chemical warfare and make sure that humankind is forever liberated from the ominous threat of the use of chemical weapons, he said.

"On this Day of Remembrance, let us do more than recall the past," he said. "Let us shape a new future by renewing our common pledge to rid the world of chemical weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction."

He spoke of the importance of the Chemical Weapons Convention, strongly urging those few countries that still remain outside this framework to adhere to it "without further delay," and reminded the world how the multinational effort to rid Syria of its chemical weapons programme clearly demonstrated what can be achieved when the international community unites.

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