Institute for Public Accuracy
Sept 6, 2013
Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, Marjorie Cohn said today:
“Even if Congress votes to give Obama authority to launch a military attack on Syria, it would still be illegal under the United Nations Charter. That is because the Security Council has not approved military action, and Syria has not attacked or threatened to attack any other country so the United States would not be acting in lawful self-defense. The Charter does not allow a military attack for punishment.
“Moreover, Obama would be hard pressed to certify to Congress that the United States has ‘used all appropriate diplomatic and other peaceful means’ to prevent the deployment of chemical weapons, which is a prerequisite to the use of force under the Senate Foreign Relations Committee resolution. The U.S. should work toward a negotiated ceasefire and political resolution, urge its allies to stop arms shipments to Syria, and urge Russia to urge its allies to stop sending arms to Syria. There are questions about whether it was the Assad government that used chemical weapons in Syria. Regardless, the use of chemical weapons constitutes a war crime. Obama should urge the Council to refer the issue to the International Criminal Court, which is competent to prosecute war crimes.” Cohn recently cowrote the piece “Killing Civilians to Protect Civilians in Syria.”