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Chemical weapons and R2P after Han-Sheyhun

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Use of force in international law

The main reason of the establishment of United Nations was the protection of international peace and security, because it was believed that people can be happy only in the world which doesn't face a war.

Use of force was banned by UN Charter, but there are two exceptions of this rule: right to self defense against the aggression by another state or military group as provided in the article 51 of the UN Charter and use of force by the resolution of the UNSC according to conditions under articles 41-42 of the Charter.

For the resolution according Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, at least 9 out of 15 member countries of the UNSC should vote for. But 5 permanent members - Russia, USA, England, China and France has a veto right, that means they can prevent the issue of the resolution when they want.

Chemical weapon ban

Approximately 50 "Tomahawk" missiles were fired to air base of Assad regime by U.S. forces on 7th of April 2017. This strike was because of use of chemical weapons in Idlib by Assad army.

Chemical weapons were used rarely, first time in WWI, then in Iran - Iraq war, against Kurds by Saddam Hussein and in previous years of Syrian war in 2013.

By Protocol signed in Geneva in 1925, the use of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of all analogous liquids, materials or devices and biological weapons was prohibited, however their production and stockpiling was not banned. However by efforts of UN General Assembly, production, gathering, transportation and selling components to the third country was prohibited by a convention in 1993.There are only a few countries which did not sign the convention. Zimbabwe, and North Korea didn’t signed, Israel signed but did not ratified.

Syria has ratified the 1993 Convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons after 2013 incident.

R2P – responsibility to protect

If we will look at the Syria, there is no foreign invasion but civil war in this country. İf not considering proxy war parties, there are 4 sides - Assad, opposition forces, armed Kurds and ISIS. Can international community intervene to Syria?

If there is a humanitarian catastrophe in the country, if there is a serious loss of the lives of civil population, conscientious people can not remain silent, so UNSC can apply force. First time international community applied R2P intervention in Somalia in 1992, then UNSC issued resolution authorized creation of UNOSOM and use of force against criminal groups in the country.

As a rule, R2P has to lunched by the UNSC resolution. But in 1994 and 1999 Russia has vetoed and UNSC could not make any decision, thus NATO applied force against Serbians in Yugoslavia war.

The same situation was observed in Libya in 2010 against Gaddafi, but in Libya intervention, there was the Resolution 1973 of UNSC.

Russia did not compromise in bloody Syria war. By prevention to decide on establishment of non-fly zone or any serious measure against Assad government several times, it did not let international community to intervene in Syrian war. In contrast, it supported Assad forced alongside with Lebanon and Iran. Russia has its own interests in Syria and did not want to sacrifice it for the USA.

Actually, Russia could follow more constructive path. The agreement could be reached by replacement of Assad and main base of Russia Tarsus could also be kept.

Can a country be intervened because of the use of chemical weapons?

We can continue this question: Can it be done without the decision of UNSC?

Chemical weapons are considered as weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The USA has already proclaimed that it will intervene countries which are producing WMDs and consequently acted upon this claim. For example, sanctions applied on Iran, Iraq, North Korea are just some examples of the US policy.

The issue of legality of intervention to the country producing or stockpiling of chemical weapons are not answered in international law as well as to country which use CW. For example, the USA who has signed The 1993 Convention still have some stocks of chemical weapons but supposed to destroy them till 2020.

In my opinion, none of the countries should keep the chemical weapons, but if the country doesn’t comply with destruction of the CW, UNSC has to take an action – step by step – from economic sanctions till the use of force.

So R2P can be applied in the case of use of chemical weapons in non-international conflicts. If chemical weapons were thrown by Assad jets and they may have done it, force can be directly used because previous sanctions just didn’t work.

Unilateral use of force of USA does not suit international system which has fitted very hard. Russia is the main protester of American missile strike. But objection of Russia doesn’t seem sincere, because the country which has occupied Crimea on its own protesting hardly can justify its protest to the country solely the country which had fired missiles from Mediterranean.

From the other side, discussion of the issue in UNSC would be meaningless, because Russia would veto it.

This step taken by the USA has established "no - fly zone" on Syria, because the majority of Assad airplanes were destroyed on 7 April night. (If information is true)

Cut of the Gordian knot

Even though we don't have proof, these options are available. The use of chemical weapons by Assad or Russia would be meaningless and non-sense nowadays. May be the chemical attack was just an excuse for the USA to lunch active military operations. But we should not forget that Democrats are gone and Republicans who are not afraid of war controlling the USA now.

"Tomahawk" missiles are weapons of high accuracy. The error rate is -/+ 1 because it is controlled from satellite and they are not flying on straight trajectory, so even sophisticated Russian S - 400 missiles can't stop them.

The second version is, Trump did it because his relations with Russia was on agenda of USA and talks about his impeachment had started. Notably, Trump ordered Pentagon to attack without permission of Senate.

If attacks of USA will continue, then the first version is more probable; if no, then the second version will be preferable. But these are just probabilities.

Today trump called the world to cooperation and stop blood flow in Syria in his speech.

As it is obvious, there are deeper and wider plans. The course of Syrian war can change from now.

2017.04.07 / 16:36
Farhad Mehdiyev
See also

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"Putin's cook" has officially appealed to the US

Official Baku called on international organizations

MFA: This action of Armenia is the extreme hypocrisy

Azerbaijan, Russia discussed consultations on the Caspian

Russian FM: Provision of maps of mined areas...

Jeyhun Bayramov went to Turkey

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