The Security Council and Syria

When a competent analyst like Finian Cunningham writes that: “American forces – about 2,000 on the ground as well as warplanes – are in violation of international law since they do not have a UN Security Council mandate, nor authorization from Syria’s government,” repeating the false information that even President Putin uttered in his annual press conference, we ought to be alarmed at how successful Imperialist Zionism has been.

We have been conditioned to accept that US forces could be stationed in Syria under a UN Security Council mandate. However, that is inadmissible under international law. I am not going to discuss the resolutions adopted by the SC on Syria during the last six years because I believe that the UN had no authority to adopt them which renders them null and void. Such a discussion will divert our attention from the question at hand.

But whenever we discuss an issue regarding the UN action we have to remember that the UN was created as an agreement between sovereign states and its function is limited by its Charter and by the principles of international law. The UN was neither created to act as a court of law nor to create new rules of international law.

 

At the heart of the UN Charter is the principle of non-interference in the affairs of its sovereign states. This is enshrined in Article 2(4) of the Charter which reads as: 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.” Article 2(4) has since been declared by the International Court of Justice as a perepmtive principle of international law that could neither be breached nor derogated from. The only use of force allowed in the Charter is one of two cases: self-defence opposing an actual attack and a UN supervised intervention to secure peace in an international conflict which failed to be settled by peaceful means.

It should be emphasised that the UN military intervention would only take place following an international conflict that the UN has concluded to be threatening peace and security. The UN has no authority to intervene in an internal armed conflict. It is not difficult to understand why the drafters of the Charter limited the intervention to international conflict. They were aware of the danger of allowing intervention in the internal affairs of the member states. Any of the world colonial powers that wanted to occupy a small and weak state could have done so by fermenting a small military uprising in order to invade and occupy the small state. Although this has happened since WWII but with more difficulty than otherwise.

As Syria has not been involved in an international military conflict, then the UN has no authority to intervene. That is the law. Raising a moral argument is neither here nor there.

It is time we pause and read carefully what we disseminate.

 

 

Attacking Syria: War Crime And Aggression

Supremacy of Parliament in the UK means that Acts adopted by it apply to everybody including Parliament itself.

WAR CRIMES

In 1957 Parliament promulgated the Geneva Conventions Act incorporating the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949 into domestic law. In 1995 the Geneva Conventions (Amendment) Act was adopted incorporating the 1977 Additional Protocols to the Genevan Conventions in UK Law.

Section 1 of the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 (as amended) states:

“1. Grave breaches of scheduled conventions.

(1) Any person, whatever his nationality, who, whether in or outside the United Kingdom, commits, or aids, abets or procures the commission by any other person of a grave breach of any of the scheduled conventions, the first protocol or the third protocol shall be guilty of an offence.

Paragraph 3 of Article 85 of Protocol I reads as:

  1. In addition to the grave breaches defined in Article 11, the following acts shall be regarded as grave breaches of this Protocol, when committed wilfully, in violation of the relevant provisions of this Protocol, and causing death or serious injury to body or health:

……

(c) launching an attack against works or installations containing dangerous forces in the knowledge that such attack will cause excessive loss of life, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects, as defined in Article 57, paragraph 2(a)(iii);”

In 2001 Parliament adopted the International Criminal Court Act 2001 (ICCA 2001) which encoded the customary international law of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide crime into UK Law.

Article 8 of Schedule 8 of the ICCA 2001 reads as:

“2 For the purpose of this Statute, “war crimes” means:

(a) Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, namely, any of the following acts against persons or property protected under the provisions of the relevant Geneva Convention:

……

(iv) Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated.”

Any attack on a site potentially containing WMD would inevitably lead to widespread damage to people and the natural environment through the dispersal of material from the destroyed site.

It would be easy to prove in a court of law that the UK Government, which declared that it attacked chemical weapons production and storage facilities in the Syrian Arab Republic, committed a war crime contrary to para (4c) of Article 85 Protocol I, and Article 8 Schedule 8 of the ICCA 2001.

AGGRESSION

The international political order is based on respect for sovereignty of the state and the promotion of peace and security. The United Nations Charter embodies these principles under the umbrella of International Law in whose development the UK has played a significant role.

International Law recognizes only two exceptions to a secure sovereignty of a state – one being to act in self defence against a real, and not an alleged, attack, and the second when the UN Security Council decides that there is a real threat to peace and security that requires military action, which military action should be done under strict control by the UN as described by the UN Charter and for the specific purpose of eliminating the threat to peace and security in the world. There is nothing in International Law that allows any other action however reprehensible the action of the sovereign state may be.

Aggression as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has declared is any act in breach of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter and classified it as breach of jus cogens norms of customary international law from which there is no derogation.  Aggression constituted the main crime in the Nuremberg Tribunal. Its definition has been unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly in Resolution (3314) and incorporated into the Statute of the International Criminal Court. Its criminality in the UK has been established by Parliament in the Human Rights Act 1998 (Article 7.2)

Thus whether the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) has chemical weapons as the UK insists, despite the OPCW declaring that the SAR to be free of them, or the SAR does not indeed have them, the attack of the UK on SAR on 14 April 2018 is an act of aggression under both International Law and domestic law.

It seems that in the midst of the political waffle we have lost track of the legality of war.

Parliament could not approve an attack on SAR whatever the Government’s argument is. If Parliament were to vote for military action against the SAR with no right of self-defence being established by the UK Government, then it would commit both war crime and the crime of aggression just as it did in 2003 when it voted to invade Iraq.

 

Abdul-Haq Al-Ani (Dr)

Barrister
London

16 April 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indicting George Bush and Tony Blair for War Crimes in Falluja in 2004

Sajida Thamer Saadoon, an Iraqi citizen residing in Falluja, applied to the UK Attorney General for his consent to indict George Bush and members of his administration and Tony Blair and his Minister of Defence for having committed war crimes in attacking civilians in Falluja between April and November 2004.

People, who feel strongly about the crimes committed during the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and support this legal action are invited to donate to the following account of the charitable society set up to support litigation in defence of Iraq:

Consortium of Legal Advisors

IBAN: GB43BARC20251953918351

SWIFT: BARCGB22