WAS US AIR STRIKE ON SYRIA LEGAL UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW, ASSUMING THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT USED CHEMICAL WEAPONS?

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Dr Charles Kambanda

By Charles Kambanda

I highlighted the following:

1. Whether US air strike in Syria is legal or not cannot be resolved by reading the UN Charter 2 (4) in isolation. Section 51 of the UN Charter is the applicable part of the UN Charter. Some aspects of International Customary Law also apply.

2. Use of chemical weapons is considered an attack on everybody and all nations. That the letter an spirit of the 1925 Geneva Protocol, the BWC, the CWC, among other relevant international Conventions.

3. US forces are in Iraq legally. Most US troops in Iraq are in Mosul, the other side of the border where Assad allegedly launched his chemical weapon from.

4. Not many superpower countries disputes the fact that Assad troops used chemical weapon. The argument though is that some anti Assad army commanders in Syria gov army used the chemical weapons to cause trouble for Assad. However, Assad declared that he surrendered all chemical weapon piles. It’s does not seem to be in dispute that those chemical weapons were in Syrian gov military base, at the time they were launched

5. Use of Chemical weapons by Assad regime was an attack on the US in line with ( 2) and ( 3) above.

Therefore, the US properly fended off an armed attack until the UNSC goes for Chapter V11, in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter. In the alternative, the US properly applied its internal customary law rights given ( 3) above.

The US has not declared war on Syria. The US gov, under Trump, believes Syrians should fix their internal issues. However, use of Chemical weapons in internal or international conflict is subject to international law.

6. Under the US War Powers Resolution of 1973, President Trump Did not need prior authorization from Congress to strike Syria to the extent the strike was intended to fend off an armed attack on the US as outlined in ( 2) and (3) above. The President is only required to inform Congress within 48 hours that the ordered the air strike on Syria.

The Statutory authority the President has allows him to “hit” Syria for not more than 60 days if Congress does not declare war on Syria.

7. If the Syrian gov did not use chemical weapons as alleged, the US breached International law. If the US strike on Syria violated international law, whether or not this case goes to the ICJ, the complex political issues associated with Article 51 response cannot be ignored; it would be a replay of Nicaragua case.

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