On 'Red Lines' and 'Blurred Lines': Syria and the Semantics of Intervention, Aggression and Punishment

10 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2013  

Carsten Stahn

Leiden University - Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies

Date Written: September 6, 2013

Abstract

One of the most striking features of discussion concerning the legality of strikes against Syria is the mixture of semantics relating to intervention. Vocabularies relating to the use of force have generally been distinct from the realm of International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law. The Syria debate folds criminal justifications into the rhetoric of intervention. Intervention is regarded as a means to achieves rationales and objectives of retribution. This essay examines arguments relating to (i) regime accountability under existing doctrines (R2P, 'humanitarian intervention,' 'protection of civilians,' (ii) the ‘punitive’ and deterrence-based justification of intervention, and (iii) the semantics of 'aggression.' It argues that use of force cannot and should not serve as a short-cut to international justice or as a means of punishment.

Keywords: Syria, Punishment, R2P, Humantarian Intervention, POC, Reprisals, Crime of Aggression

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Stahn, Carsten, On 'Red Lines' and 'Blurred Lines': Syria and the Semantics of Intervention, Aggression and Punishment (September 6, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2321791 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2321791

Carsten Stahn (Contact Author)

Leiden University - Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies ( email )

Leiden University Law Faculty
P.O. Box 9520
Leiden, 2300 RA
Netherlands

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