Reacting to the Use of Chemical Weapons: Options for Third States
Journal on the Use of Force and International Law, Vol 1(1), 80-121, 2014
28 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2017
Date Written: April 12, 2014
While the prohibition of the use of chemical weapons in international law is uncontroversial, their use in the current Syrian conflict revealed that in contrast, the lawful and effective options for the third States to deal with a violation of this rule are far from clear. In the Syrian case, after a large scale incident of the use in August 2013, a number of States contemplated a unilateral military intervention as their reaction in the absence of any authorisation of the Security Council. Against this backdrop, this article first shows that the options for third States outside jus ad bellum were either not effective or available in the present case. The article then examines the legal justifications for a unilateral military intervention explicitly or implicitly relied on in the present case. The article confirms that there is no established or accepted justification for such a reaction to the use of chemical weapons, but also concludes that the reacting States should be more articulate in defending their proposed action.
Keywords: Chemical weapons, unilateral military intervention, Syria, third States
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