UK participation in Syrian missile strike on shaky legal ground

2018/04/2af4173b2876d9750ef3bf5a5000c122-800x-1523885896.jpg
Read: 402     17:37     16 April 2018    

Prime minister Theresa May has announced British participation in a US-French-UK coalition strike against the Syrian regime's chemical weapons attack against civilians, which killed at least 50 people and injured hundreds.


She stated that the military action was to stop Assad's pattern of behaviour "not just to protect innocent people in Syria from the horrific deaths … but also because we cannot allow the erosion of the international norm that prevents the use of [chemical] weapons."

The PM continued that there is "no practicable alternative to the use of force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons."

Her justification is that the strike is "specifically about deterring the Syrian regime" and sending "a clear signal" to others who might use chemical weapons.

May claimed that the action is "in Britain's national interest".

Unfortunately, these claims do not withstand scrutiny.

First, the British public does not see the military strikes as being in the national interest: 43 percent opposed missile strikes whereas only one in five people supported the use of cruise missiles against Syria.

The prime minister has not explained which national interests are impacted by Assad's use of chemical weapons.

No British citizens were harmed by their use last week and no vital security interests were affected.

Although the use of chemical weapons is reprehensible, their use in Syria does not impact any specific British national interest.

Secondly, May's argument for the use of force to specifically deter Assad has no support in international law.

The UN Charter does not authorise states to use force for deterrence. Specifically, article 2(4) states: "All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations."

The authority for using force is limited to the UN Security Council. In addition to such collective force, states may only use force in self-defence.

The charter vests the UN Security Council (SC) with the right to use force under article 42.

The SC may use force if other measures to give effect to its decisions "would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate".

The use of force includes actions "by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security."

EU Observer



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UK participation in Syrian missile strike on shaky legal ground

2018/04/2af4173b2876d9750ef3bf5a5000c122-800x-1523885896.jpg
Read: 403     17:37     16 April 2018    

Prime minister Theresa May has announced British participation in a US-French-UK coalition strike against the Syrian regime's chemical weapons attack against civilians, which killed at least 50 people and injured hundreds.


She stated that the military action was to stop Assad's pattern of behaviour "not just to protect innocent people in Syria from the horrific deaths … but also because we cannot allow the erosion of the international norm that prevents the use of [chemical] weapons."

The PM continued that there is "no practicable alternative to the use of force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons."

Her justification is that the strike is "specifically about deterring the Syrian regime" and sending "a clear signal" to others who might use chemical weapons.

May claimed that the action is "in Britain's national interest".

Unfortunately, these claims do not withstand scrutiny.

First, the British public does not see the military strikes as being in the national interest: 43 percent opposed missile strikes whereas only one in five people supported the use of cruise missiles against Syria.

The prime minister has not explained which national interests are impacted by Assad's use of chemical weapons.

No British citizens were harmed by their use last week and no vital security interests were affected.

Although the use of chemical weapons is reprehensible, their use in Syria does not impact any specific British national interest.

Secondly, May's argument for the use of force to specifically deter Assad has no support in international law.

The UN Charter does not authorise states to use force for deterrence. Specifically, article 2(4) states: "All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations."

The authority for using force is limited to the UN Security Council. In addition to such collective force, states may only use force in self-defence.

The charter vests the UN Security Council (SC) with the right to use force under article 42.

The SC may use force if other measures to give effect to its decisions "would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate".

The use of force includes actions "by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security."

EU Observer



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