Case for Syria Humanitarian Intervention

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It has been convenient both for many "Friends of Syria" and "Pals of Assad" to park the entire debate at the UN Security council over what next on Syria. However, the legal as well as ethical and political basis for intervention exists beyond the current debate. PILPG (Public International Law & Policy Group) sets out the rationale on basis of the recently evolving doctrine of "Responsibility to Protect" or "R2P" for humanitarian intervention in Syria "to use military force against the Syrian regime for the limited purpose of stopping the ongoing and dramatically escalating atrocity crimes."

PILPG has become a functional and theoretical authority in promoting the "rule of law" in context of both resolving conflict and inspiring reconciliation via broadly shared constitutional principles. Paul Williams, President, is a former State Department official who resigned in protest over US inaction in Bosnia & Herzegovina in the early 1990's. Professor Williams also served as legal adviser to the BiH delegation during and before the Dayton Accords (having helped develop a constitutional/institutional system that would have served BiH more effectively and justly than the final Paris-Dayton Accords). Paul is also a friend who deserves great confidence. The following introductory paragraph and link to PILPG's analysis may help further the debate on both addressing the current urgency of the ongoing conflict/grave violations of international humanitarian law and the reintegration of Syria.


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PILPG Update:  PILPG Releases Memorandum Setting Forth the Legal Basis for Humanitarian Intervention in Syria
July 30, 2012

The Public International Law & Policy Group has just released a legal memorandum setting forth the legal basis for humanitarian intervention in Syria, available here. Under the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (“R2P”), there is a sufficient legal basis to use military force against the Syrian regime for the limited purpose of stopping the ongoing and dramatically escalating atrocity crimes.
As the Syria crisis continues there is a dramatic intensification of the commission of atrocity crimes.  To date, Syrian forces have killed over 15,000 civilians, including over 2,000 in July 2012 alone.  Tens of thousands of refugees have fled to neighboring countries.  Diplomatic measures and sanctions have proven ineffective, and the Security Council is paralyzed with Russia and China having vetoed three Security Council resolutions aimed at stopping the violence.
The memorandum analyzes the Syria crisis through the lens of R2P.  Because there are ongoing atrocity crimes in Syria, peaceful measures have been exhausted, and the Security Council is deadlocked, there is a sufficient legal basis for the international community to use force for the limited purpose of stopping atrocity crimes and protecting civilians.  Military intervention in Syria would be legal, even without prior Security Council approval, as long as it satisfied R2P’s procedural and operational safeguards.

About the Public International Law & Policy Group

The Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG) is a global, pro bono law firm providing legal assistance to governments involved in conflicts.  To facilitate use of this legal assistance, PILPG also provides policy formulation advice and training on matters related to conflict resolution.  PILPG was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

PILPG's primary practice areas are Peace Negotiations, Post-Conflict Constitutions, and War Crimes Prosecution.  To provide pro bono legal advice and policy formulation expertise, PILPG relies almost exclusively on volunteer assistance from more than sixty former international lawyers, diplomats, and foreign relations experts, as well as pro bono assistance from major international law firms.  Annually, PILPG is able to provide over $20 million worth of pro bono international legal services.

In July 1999, the United Nations granted official Non-Governmental Organization status to PILPG.

The Managing Board of PILPG includes:

Paul Williams - President
Michael Scharf - Managing Director
James Hooper - Managing Director

To learn more about the Public International Law & Policy Group, please visit our website.

The Public International Law & Policy Group provides to members of our list serve e-mail updates relating to certain developments concerning the work of PILPG.  If you do not wish to receive these general updates please click on the unsubscribe link below.

About the author


"Voice of the Global Citizen"- Diplomatically Incorrect ( provide film and written reports on issues reflecting diplomatic discourse and the global citizen. Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey (@MuhamedSacirbey) is former Foreign Minister Ambassador of Bosnia & Herzegovina at the United Nations. "Mo" is also signatory of the Rome Conference/Treaty establishing the International…

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