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A proper procedure must be used to prove that the law on chemical weapons was breached the other day in Douma, and if so, WHO has used those weapons. If one takes seriously the law enforcement argument, maybe we can see the formation of a new kind of reprisal, closer to Belligerent Reprisal.


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I am glad we agree on the main point: Reprisals are unlawful regardless of whether the facts are as Mr. Trump seems to believe them to be or not. This is an excellent post and will hopefully encourage the mainstream media to consider this aspect of international law in its Syria coverage. And I did consider using it again at the end, but the point there is that regardless of what Pres.


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Trump thinks respecting the use of chemical weapons in Syria, he has no legal right under international law to use military force in response. Glad we agree on that point, too. I think it is important to discuss the controversial topic of belligerent reprisals, too. Indeed, most of us believe the jus in bello today forbids belligerent reprisals.

A fortiori, how can they be tolerated under the jus ad bellum?

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We have means of enforcing important norms of international law such as the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons that involve individuality accountability respecting actual perpetrators. Missile attacks will kill people with no link to any law violation. They will destroy property and devastate the environment. Military force is the bluntest of human tools and is thus highly and rightly restricted under the Charter.

National leaders who think the only way to uphold international norms is through violating equally important ones are, I fear, not being well advised respecting international law. Thank you for this excellent post. A possible response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria could be the activation of the Uniting for Peace procedure [GA Res.

It is question-begging and a source of concern that States prefer controversial or manifestly unlawful unilateral action Kosovo , Iraq and Syria , something which you point out very succintly in your post. The United for Peace resolution could be very helpful in this case—not to authorize a use of force, which the General Assembly has no power to do, but to call together the world body to condemn any use of chemical weapons, as well as the unlawful use of force. Macron said today he is worried about preserving the norm against chemical weapons use. I hope this is true. Wide support for a resolution of condemnation in the General Assembly would be an appropriate way to preserve the norm, one supportive of international law generally.

Violating the peremptory norm prohibiting the use of force would not. Dear Mary Ellen, Thank you very much for your detailed response that reflects serious and real concerns. Just to clarify: my piece was not advocating for this possible development, just pointing at it as a possible explanation as to where the law is headed. More importantly, to leave legal technicalities, is there any evidence that personal criminal responsibility prevents or deters such atrocities as the use of chemical weapons?

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However, I find the argument that there are other available medicines less convincing. Thanks again for an thought provoking post. Indeed a very educative and detailed analysis which deals with important issues of iternational law.

The fear of reprisal and the failure of victims to report a personal crime

Also, about the role of states and international organizations in the game of power. There is no doubt that in any case action must be taken in Syria. I think that all efforts should be focused on a solution through UN system, although veto complicates the situation. I agree that the response should be through the UN but as Constantine suggests, the General Assembly is available and untroubled by the veto. The General Assembly can support the norm against chemical weapons use and considered lawful alternatives for accountability.

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Deterrence is a complicated subject. There is certainly no right to violate a peremptory norm like the prohibition on the use of force in the slim hope that future use of chemical weapons will be deterred. The better path to deterrence is through modeling law compliance. What is the status of this doctrine these days, and how convincing or otherwise do you find it as a justification in international law for the intervention that has now taken place?

Reports are also coming in of at least three people killed.

If so, it will be an argument with the gravest potential consequences, considering the concerns over Iranian and North Korean weapons programs. It is also an argument in conflict with the basic point that Article 2 4 is a peremptory norm from which no derogation is permitted. Its scope cannot be reduced through contrary State practice and claims of legality. The three attacking governments insist the use of force was to enforce the international law prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.

Alternatives always exist to unlawfully killing. As we have been discussing here—a meeting at the UN General Assembly would have been dramatic and impactful, certainly with respect to preserving a norm of international law.

Call for submissions on intimidation and reprisals

Your question is astute—as I would expect from you. Before submitting your case information, please ensure that :. Guidelines for submission of general trends and thematic issues. You may also consider submitting analysis, observations and input to the report on the following:. Reporting mandate of the Secretary-General. Good practices to prevent and address reprisals. Role of key UN human rights mechanisms.

General Assembly events.

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On 30 July, the UN Security Council announced it would deploy a UN police force of up to officers to Burundi to help prevent further violence in the country. The Government of Burundi had earlier said it would not accept more than The country witnessed in mass killings of Hutus by the Tutsi-dominated army, and in , mass killings of Tutsis by the majority-Hutu population. President Pierre Nkurunziza is the former leader of a Hutu rebel group.

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