Sunday, September 8, 2013

US airstrikes in international law

Dr. Leila Nicolas/ Rahbani

The American administration and many western academics referred to the concept of "responsibility to protect" Syrian civilians as the reason for the intended air strikes against the Syrian regime. 
First of all, it is important to highlight what this concept is, and whether it will give the USA the right to wage this war?.
The responsibility to protect is a new international concept which is regarded now as a part of international law, as the member States included it in the Outcome Document agreeing to take this responsibility at the 2005 World Summit. Since then, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) formalized the support for the concept in many resolutions which referred clearly to it, especially the latest resolutions of Libya 1970 and 1973.
It should be noted that this concept gives the UN security council the right to intervene to protect civilians when they are subjected to one of the four mass atrocities crimes only i.e genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and severe human rights abuses. It provides a framework for using political and economical means like mediation, early warning mechanisms, economic sanctioning to prevent mass atrocities, and when the international community lacks to prevent these furious crimes, then, military intervention can be the "last resort" but not the primary one.
Therefore, referring to international law, we can say that:
1- It is clearly stated that the authority to employ this last resort and intervene militarily relies "solely" on a resolution from United Nations Security Council . So, the USA and its allies cannot substitute a collective resolution from the UN security council in terms of "responsibility to protect". Otherwise, Any military intervention or air strikes will be regarded as an act of aggression.
2- Any resolution from UN security council to use military force against Syrian regime should be based on accurate facts that the Syrian government allegedly used nerve gas on civilians, which violates the international law. Thus, waging a war before the submission of the inspectors' report and without clear evidence will be a breach of international law and an act of aggression also.
In both cases, Syrian government has the right to defend itself against illegal crime of aggression.

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