Ban requests culprits of Syrian chemical attacks be brought to justice

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Friday for the international community to find those responsible for using chemical weapons in Syria and to hold them accountable for the heinous crime.

"The international community has a moral and political responsibility to hold accountable those responsible, to deter future incidents and to ensure that chemical weapons can never re-emerge as an instrument of warfare," Ban said to the U.N. General Assembly.

The investigation in Syria, led by Swedish scientist Dr. Åke Sellström, began over the summer. Although the country admitted to possession of chemical weapons, acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention and pledged the elimination of its weapons, the culprits of the chemical attacks have still not been found.

"I do not have at my disposal the necessary information to identify those responsible for attacks with chemical weapons that have taken place in Syria ...we are a fact-finding mission," Sellström said. "We work with the Secretary-General's mechanism, given to [him] by the General Assembly."

While the investigation to find those responsible for the crimes is underway, Ban also stressed the importance of finding a diplomatic end to the conflict, which has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people since it began more than two years ago.

"Nearly half the population of Syria is either displaced or in need of urgent humanitarian assistance," Ban said. "The conflict is having profound impacts on the stability and economy of the entire Middle East. As Syrians prepare to work for a political solution at next month's conference on Syria, I appeal to all parties to demonstrate their leadership and vision by ceasing hostilities and instead working to meet the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people as they seek freedom and dignity."