UK claim of ‘humanitarian reasons’ for Syria strikes picked apart online
Speaking at the United Nations Security Council on Saturday, Britain’s UN ambassador, Karen Pierce, laid out the UK’s legal justification for their airstrikes on Syria. Pierce claimed that under international law the UK is allowed to take measures in order to “alleviate overwhelming humanitarian suffering.”
The UK government also published the legal position online. It says that three conditions have to be met to justify the intervention.
First, there has to be convincing evidence of extreme humanitarian distress on a large scale. Importantly, this must also be “generally accepted by the international community as a whole.”
It also must be objectively clear that there is “no practicable alternative” to the use of force if lives are to be saved. Finally, the use of force must be “necessary and proportionate” to the proposed relief of humanitarian suffering.
The news that the British government was citing humanitarian reasons for launching missiles sparked a flood of reaction on social media, with many people saying that it had not met any of the criteria it laid out.
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon described the legal position as “thin” and said it is “not easy to see how [the] humanitarian crisis - the result of years of civil war - will be helped by air strikes.”
1. Legal position seems thin. In absence of UN resolution or self defence - the two clear cut legal grounds for attack - reliance is on averting humanitarian crisis. But not easy to see how humanitarian crisis - the result of years of civil war - will be helped by air strikes. https://t.co/dQk9oGLRhN— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) April 14, 2018
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn also called the strikes “legally questionable.”
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg noted that the UK is one of the few countries that tries to use humanitarian arguments as a justification for military action. She added that most international lawyers don’t accept the contention.
1. Worth knowing that UK one of few countries that tries to use humanitarian arguments as justification for military action - most international lawyers don't accept it, rightly or wrongly— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) April 14, 2018
Others called out Theresa May’s government and its US allies for claiming to be concerned with humanitarian suffering when and where it suited them, while showing blind indifference to suffering in other areas.
UK Gov's legal advice justifies the airstrikes on the basis of "to alleviate overwhelming humanitarian suffering".Given the Tories didn't give a shit about thousands of Syrians drowning in the Mediterranean over the past five years, I'm not buying this altruistic bullshit.— Lindsay Bruce (@RogueCoder250) April 14, 2018
So, let me get this straight. We can drop bombs on people for “humanitarian” reasons but we can’t feed American citizens in still hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico?— Will Fischer (@will_c_fischer) April 14, 2018
If UK Gov were really concerned about "overwhelming humanitarian suffering", why aren't they agitating to intervene in Myanmar, Palestine or Yemen?No, they'd rather sell these despotic regimes weapons. "Overwhelming humanitarian suffering", aye right.— Lindsay Bruce (@RogueCoder250) April 14, 2018
Russian President Vladimir Putin also thoroughly dismissed the “humanitarian” argument, saying the US-led coalition’s actions made the humanitarian catastrophe worse, caused pain for civilians, and damaged international relations.
Not only is this UK 'legal position' fundamentally flawed, it picks and chooses the apparent conditions that apply to the myth of humanitarian intervention - missing some key requirements the UK argued for in previous years. Making it up. #SyriaStrikeshttps://t.co/dMar1V5oDu— Patrick Butchard (@PatrickButchard) April 14, 2018
Humanitarian reasons? Absolute bollocks. Where were the humanitarian reasons when she blocked Syrian refugees from entering the UK? You're fooling no one, Jane.— Wolfie. #PCPEU (@Tpopularfront) April 14, 2018
You'd have to be the worst kind of simpleton to believe that this latest push for war in Syria comes from a humanitarian desire to save Arab lives!!!! pic.twitter.com/k5Sx8UgNxX— Craig Dempsey (@SaorAlba59) April 14, 2018
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