The three-person panel was proposed by Ban Ki-moon late last month and approved by the Security Council on Thursday.
Its mandate is “to identify to the greatest extent feasible, individuals, entities, groups or Governments who were perpetrators, organizers, sponsors or otherwise involved in the use of chemicals as weapons, including chlorine or any other toxic chemical.”
The panel which will coordinate with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is a result of Resolution 2235 – adopted early last month – that called on Ban to submit to the Council a proposal for a Joint Investigative Mechanism involving the United Nations and the OPCW.
In February this year the OPCW fact-finding mission, established in 2013 after the use of Sarin gas in Syria, said that it had found “with a high degree of confidence” that chlorine had been used as a weapon in Syria in the villages of Talmenes, Al Tamanah, and Kafr Zita from April to August 2014.
The OPCW fact-finding mission does not have a mandate to determine responsibility for chemical weapons attacks.
The new panel will consist of an assistant secretary-general and two deputies with a political office in New York, an investigative office in the Hague, and a planning office also in New York.
There have been almost 60 reported incidents of the use of chemical weapons in Syria since 2012, according to information compiled from UN reports. A majority of attacks involve the use of chlorine gas and have been directed at areas not under the control of the Assad regime. There have been other allegations that ISIS have used mustard gas in attacks against Kurdish areas of Syria and that other forces have also used chemical weapons.
Besides chlorine, mustard and sarin, there have also been reports that the chemical Agent 15 was used in attacks.
The letter from Ban Ki-moon on forming the panel to investigate and assign blame for chemical weapons attacks is published in full below.