Assessing U.S. Justifications for Using Force in Response to Syriai's Chemical Attacks: An International Law Perspective
Journal of National Security Law and Policy, Forthcoming
19 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2017
Date Written: May 16, 2017
Michael Schmitt and Christopher Ford unpack the Trump Administration’s legal justifications for the April 2017 United States attack on a Syrian airfield in response to its use of chemical weapons against civilians. Schmitt and Ford discuss three possible legal bases for the use of force: self-defense, response to an internationally wrongful act, and humanitarian intervention. The authors conclude that the US’s actions run afoul of limitations in each relevant body of law, and of note, they discuss how this attack is consequential for the validity of humanitarian intervention on another state’s territory without approval from the UN Security Council. They conclude by suggesting that the international community is likely to consider the nature of suffering, in addition to the quantum of suffering, as bearing on the right of States to mount future humanitarian operations.
Keywords: Humanitarian Intervention, Syria, Missile Attack, Self-Defense, International Law, IHL, LOAC, Law of Armed Conflict, UN, Security Council, Chemical Weapons
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation