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Syrian children being treated in a make-shift hospital following a reported gas attack on the rebel-held, besieged town of Douma on January 22, 2018. Photo: Hasan Mohamed / AFP/ Getty Images

Today a group of 30 countries, led by France and including the U.S., launched the International Partnership Against Impunity for Use of Chemical Weapons to hold perpetrators accountable. The announcement follows reports yesterday of a new chemical attack by the Assad regime in the Syrian town of Douma, yet was met with stunningly little fanfare from the media and civil society groups.

Since the complete collapse of the Joint Investigative Mechanism of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the need for new approaches has grown acute. Essential as it is, this partnership is only a first step.

France has imposed unilateral sanctions on 25 people and entities connected with Syria’s chemical weapons program; other governments must now follow their lead. Moreover, victims of these war crimes deserve to be heard and the evidence against their attackers preserved, laying the groundwork for a future path to justice.

Why it matters: The feckless international response and lack of civic outrage to continued attacks carry broad implications for nonproliferation and deterrence and undermine international law. Countries such as Russia that protect perpetrators must realize that collective opposition to chemical weapons use will prevail. The international community must translate words into actions to hold those who use chemical weapons accountable.

Rebecca Hersman is the director of the Project on Nuclear Issues and a senior adviser in the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Go deeper

Exclusive: GOP Leader McCarthy asks to meet with Biden about the border

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy at CPAC. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has requested a meeting with President Biden to discuss the rising numbers of unaccompanied migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border, in a letter sent on Friday.

Why it matters: Biden is facing criticism from the right and the left as agency actions and media reports reveal spiking numbers of migrant children overwhelming parts of the U.S. immigration system. Recent data shows an average of 321 kids being referred to migrant shelters each day, as Axios reported.

Vaccine hesitancy drops, but with partisan divide

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

69% of the public intends to get a COVID vaccine or already has, up significantly from 60% in November, according to a report out Friday from the Pew Research Center.

Yes, but: The issue has become even more partisan, with 56% of Republicans who say they want or have already received a coronavirus vaccine compared to 83% of Democrats.

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2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

China's 5-year plan is hazy on climate

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

China's highly anticipated 5-year plan revealed on Friday provides little new information about its climate initiatives, leaving plenty to discuss in multinational meetings this year and lots of blanks for China to fill in later.

Driving the news: The top-line targets for 2025, per state media, aim to lower energy intensity by 13.5% and carbon emissions intensity by 18% — that is, measures of energy use and emissions relative to economic output.