|The article below outlines the legal basis for any non-belligerent state to intervene in the Syrian conflict following the use of chemical weapons. The case made and approach suggested are both rational and sober and tend towards doing something credible rather than violating the rule of law proposed by the most bellicose elements of western power - especially in the US, France and Britain.|
|Crisis in Syria: WESTERN STATES LEGAL FOUNDATION Briefing Paper |
by Jaqueline Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation
The Rush to Bomb Syria: Undermining International Law and Risking Wider War
Once again, the President of the United States is leading a rush towards war without regard for the United Nations Charter and the international legal regime intended to control prohibited weapons and to respond to threats to peace and security. Even before United Nations inspectors were on the ground in Syria to determine whether a chemical weapons attack had occurred, the U.S. and its allies began moving ships into attack position in a manner that, in the context of public statements by the leaders of the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, constituted an undeniable military threat to Syria.
Since World War I, use of chemical weapons has been viewed almost universally as monstrous, and as a violation of treaty-based and customary standards of international humanitarian law. If they were used in Syria by any party, that action should be condemned, and all states should cooperate in identifying the perpetrators and in pursuing their apprehension and prosecution by all legal means. There is no provision of international law, however, that allows ad hoc coalitions of countries to determine for themselves who they believe the guilty parties to be, and to punish them by acts of war against the territory of a sovereign state. The United Nations Charter allows unilateral military action only where a country is under attack or imminent threat of attack. None of the countries proposing the use of force against Syria can make any claim that Syria has attacked them, or that they are under imminent threat of attack. International treaties outlawing chemical weapons and prohibiting their use provide no special exception for such ad hoc use of military force. To the contrary, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the most comprehensive instrument concerning chemical weapons, provides for investigation of alleged violations by specialist bodies constituted by the Convention and recourse to the United Nations to authorize any use of force.
In this instance, it is especially important that transparent, credible procedures be followed for investigation of the allegations of chemical weapons use and a determination of the responsible party or parties, as well as for actions to prevent further use and to punish those culpable.
Key Findings and Recommendations
Syria absent authorization by the UN Security Council or, if the Council is deadlocked, the UN General Assembly under its Uniting for Peace procedure.
-- Jacqueline Cabasso Executive Director Western States Legal Foundation Working for Peace & Justice in a Nuclear Free World www.wslfweb.org www.disarmamentactivist.org www.facebook.com/WesternStatesLegalFoundation Twitter@JackieCabasso 510-839-5877