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April 27, 2015 / 8 Iyar, 5775
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The Law of Use of Force: the US or the UN?

Can interested state[s] intervene militarily to stop heinous crimes without the Security Council’s authorization?
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Therefore, substantiating this controversial ground in a possible strike against Syria must await the outcome of the report of the UN inspection team that travelled to Syria for the investigation of the use of Chemical Weapon. The ensuing recommendations and the consequence thereof will have a huge impact for the Security Council deliberations. As of now, the UN inspection team has returned back to The Hague and proceeding with their lab investigation process. If the claim put forth by the intelligence communities of the United States, France and other states stating that the government of Syria has used chemical warfare against its own citizens is corroborated by the UN inspection team there is no other prima facie evidence than this for the Security Council to determine the existence of threat and breach of international peace and security [as under article 39-41 of the UN Charter]. That should plausibly call and justify the authorization of use of force against Syria by any interested UN member State [not only the US] under the close supervision of the UN itself. If this condition sounds too genuine to be real, and as a result, the UN SC becomes handicapped for whatever reason, I don’t see a reason why the US should not unilaterally takeover the initiative. There is where the practice of unilateral humanitarian intervention makes sense. In that case, VOILA!

By the way, no one is dismissive or blatantly naive of the imaginable hindrances that might be posed by Russia and China in the form of vetoing/blocking an authorization of use of military force. Conversely, contrary to our perceptions, the Russians seem not to abandon the UN authorization. In a recent statement Putin echoed that Russia “doesn’t exclude” the possibility of supporting a UN resolution authorizing military strikes. Therefore, having not exhausted the possibility of bringing Russia and China on board to the Security Council, it will be premature for the United States to unilaterally use military force on any ground. It is too early, after waiting two solid years, to precipitously wake up and decide international strike unilaterally, particularly when there is a glimmer of hope to have all other Security Council on board for authorization.

The US may need to Chill and Exhaust UN SC Authorization before Unilateral Humanitarian Intervention

The ongoing situation in Syria exhibits a unique reality worth considering the redemption of use of forces on the basis of humanitarian ground. The use of Chemical Weapons has long been banned under the customary rules that simply consolidated the laws of war in the form of Geneva Conventions and the Chemical Weapons Convention. International Law is unequivocally clear about that. Based on this the international community’s reaction to Syria can take either of the following two forms: first, through the UN Security Council’s determination of the Situation in Syria [pursuant to article 39 of the Charter] as having to constitute the existence of threat or breach of international peace and security, an authorization to use force against Syria will be a way to go. In this regard, nonetheless, the lab investigation of the UN inspection team is in-progress and we all need to relax and wait for the report whatsoever. Second option is the subsequent effect of the first option. That means if for whatsoever reason [it might be veto from Russia and China or anything else] the Security Council fails to come up with an authorization, now there is all moral compass and responsibility ready for the unilateral military action by the US against the government of Syria.

Yet, this prescription is not naïvely offered “Carte Blanche” to the US. In other words, if the Security Council is not functioning as it should be and unreasonably refuses to come to an agreement, the unilateral engagement of use of force by the United States, I might argue, must receive legitimacy. This is politically and legally wise in the sense that the “Moral obligation and responsibility of the United States” to intervene in Syria, as pointed out by Secretary Kerry, would at least rally some global support. But one has to make sure, in the first place, that the UN Security Council decision making system is too bankrupt to betray the souls of the 100,000 dead Syrians and the lives of 2 million refugees torn apart.

About the Author: Henok G. Gabisa is a JSD/PhD Candidate and International Law Fellow and Researcher at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia.


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4 Responses to “The Law of Use of Force: the US or the UN?”

  1. Moshe Z. Matitya says:

    I saw the headline and thought, “Cool!”
    Then I noticed that it says “Use of Force”, not “Use of The Force”… :-(

  2. I saw the headline and thought, “Cool!”

    Then I noticed that it says “Use of Force”, not “Use of The Force”… :-(

  3. Alan Kardon says:

    Bottom line is- Barack Hussein does whatever he wants to do. So why are we part of the United Nations? Think about all of the money we save that can be put to better use.

  4. Its complicated Issu but I don't like Islamic people in any state.

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Can interested state[s] intervene militarily to stop heinous crimes without the Security Council’s authorization?

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