The UN on Monday admitted its "feeble condemnations and paralyzed Security Council" in the wake of a deadly chemical attack in Douma, Syria, that reportedly killed dozens of civilians including women and children.
At least 78 civilians were killed after forces of the Bashar al-Assad regime struck targets in Eastern Ghouta's Douma district in an attack in which poison gas appears to have been used, according to the White Helmets civil defense agency.
"Reports suggesting yet another deadly chemical attack may have been carried out in Syria on Saturday in the town of Douma highlight the impotence of the international response to earlier attacks alleged to have been carried out in Syria," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement on Monday.
The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting later Monday on Syria following the attack in Douma.
"Empty words, feeble condemnations, and a Security Council paralysed by the use of the veto. The world – and in particular the veto-wielding states on the Security Council — need to wake up, and wake up fast, to the irreparable damage that is being done to one of the most important planks of global arms control and prevention of human suffering," he said.
On 24 February, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2401, which called for a month-long ceasefire in Syria — especially in Eastern Ghouta — to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.
Despite the resolution, the Assad regime last month launched a major ground offensive — backed by Russia — aimed at capturing Eastern Ghouta's last opposition strongholds.
Home to some 400,000 people, the district has remained the target of a crippling regime siege for the last five years that has rendered the delivery of humanitarian supplies almost impossible.
Last month, a UN commission of inquiry released a report accusing the regime of committing war crimes in Eastern Ghouta, including the use of chemical weapons against civilians.
"A number of very powerful states are directly involved in the conflict in Syria, and yet they have completely failed to halt this ominous regression towards a chemical weapons free-for-all. The consequences could be dire for all of us in the coming decades," Al Hussein said.