That attack prompted President Trump to launch dozens of Tomahawk missiles against the Syrian military air base from which the attack was carried out.
Syria’s leadership of the disarmament group is unlikely to have much effect: The body has been unable to agree on a program of work for the past decade. But a presidency occupied by a government that has used chemical weapons against civilians is nonetheless a blow to the group’s public image.
The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, unveiling an agenda for disarmament in Geneva last week, acknowledged that he could do nothing to change Syria’s presidency of the conference.
The group is not a United Nations body, though it meets at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, but he expressed the hope it would not harm the group’s disarmament efforts.
Britain similarly acknowledged that it could do nothing to stop Syria’s presidency, as changing the conference’s rules would require consensus among all 65 members.
It pledged instead that it would “ensure the Syrian presidency cannot inflict damage on the work of the Conference of Disarmament and its subsidiary bodies.”