Military Intervention in Syria

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The UK should intervene militarily to halt the Syria regime’s slaughter of innocent civilians. Please discuss critically using at least one case study of military intervention.

Nowadays, we can scarcely turn on our televisions or pick up a newspaper without being confronted with yet another depressing news item about the Syrian civil war. As the crisis in Syria rages the question of whether western countries especially UK should intervene militarily in order to halt the Syria regime’s slaughter of innocent civilians is raised. Should the western countries turn a blind eye to the atrocities that take place in Syria or should they use force and intervene to the state affairs of another state in order to quell the violence? This essay is an attempt to evaluate the arguments for and against such a proposition considering the legal and political nature that a military intervention has. Specifically, I argue that UK has the legal right to intervene in Syria by examining articles of the United Nations Charter and by proving that the criteria of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ concept are met in a high degree when concerned the case in Syria. Moreover, I analyze in depth the arguments of the supporters and the opponents of a forceful intervention in Syria by using other examples of military intervention especially Libya. I concluded that if the Assad government does not comply and if the escalation of violence continues then there is no other solution than a coercive armed intervention.

Does UK have the legal right to intervene in Syria? This is the first question that comes up when confronting such a controversial issue. In the UN Charter of 1945 article 2(4) provides “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 Purpose of the United Nations.” This core rule of the UN Charter is a controversial subject that leads to fundamental disagreement. Should article 2 (4) be interpreted as the strict prohibition on all use of force against another state, or should the use of force be justified provided that the aim is not to overthrow the government or seize the territory of the state and provided that the action is consistent with the purpose of the UN? In addition, article 2(7) of the Charter mainly outlawed the use of force by stating “Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state”. The only exceptions using force that were drawn were being under self-defense and having the authorization of the UNSC, which according to article 24 of the UN Charter plays a primary role in the maintenance of international peace and security. During the decades that followed the World War II there were no widely accepted principles as to how the international community should react at cases that involved catastrophic mass atrocities. Some states argued that the ‘humanitarian intervention doctrine’ gives the ‘right to intervene’ using military force when human rights are violated, while others maintained that the humanitarian motives are put forward as a justification for big powers to gain the right to intervene and throw their weight around.

The lack of consensus in terms of which is the right policy to deal with cases of humanitarian crisis lead to the birth of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ concept. The 2001 report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which introduced and set the legal framework of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ notion, was endorsed unanimously by the UN General Assembly at the 2005 World Summit. According to this new international principle, the primary duty to protect its citizens falls within the state, but when the state fails to achieve this goal then the international community is responsible to act, by...
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