Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A New Year’s resolution: enforce the old year’s resolution

Since March 2011, when protests began against the dictatorship in Syria, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed. Many thousands of those killed, likely tens of thousands of them, were killed by regime air attacks using planes and helicopters dropping conventional bombs, barrel bombs, and chlorine chemical weapons. Many thousands more, adults and children, have been maimed.

As many as 95% of those killed in regime air attacks have been civilians.

In February 2014, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 2139 which included the demand “that all parties immediately cease all attacks against civilians, as well as the indiscriminate employment of weapons in populated areas, including shelling and aerial bombardment, such as the use of barrel bombs, and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering…”

UNSCR 2139 closed with the Security Council expressing “its intent to take further steps in the case of non-compliance,” but since then no action has been taken by the UNSC to stop the air attacks.

In the absence of further steps by the UNSC as a whole, and with UNSC permanent member Russia both arming Syria’s air force and also blocking collective UNSC action, individual states enjoying the privilege of permanent membership of the UNSC must take responsibility: specifically France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These three states have the proven ability to stop the Assad regime’s air attacks against civilians almost immediately. Their New Year’s resolution should now be to enforce the old year’s resolution.

Action is justified, in the words used by George Robertson in the 1999 Parliamentary debate on the UK’s Kosovo intervention, “as an exceptional measure in support of purposes laid down by the UN Security Council, but without the Council's express authorisation.” Whether individually or collectively, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, must act now to stop this slaughter.

Protect civilians. Enforce UN Security Council Resolution 2139. Syria needs a No-Fly Zone.

Background notes at

No comments:

Post a Comment