The United States’ recent cruise missile strikes on a Syrian airfield, in response to Syria’s presumed use of chemical weapons (sarin) at Khan Sheikhoun (which killed at least 87 people), were politically well-received by some – but contrary to international law. The US was not acting in self-defence against an armed attack by Syria, pursuant to Article 51 of the UN Charter. The UN Security Council had not authorized military force to restore international security under Chapter VII of the Charter.
Other than self-defence or Security Council authorisation, there are no universally accepted exceptions to the prohibition on military force in Article 2(4) of the UN Charter.… Seguir leyendo »
In May 2014 an attempt to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) was vetoed by Russia and China. Since then, war crimes and crimes against humanity have escalated.
Civilians have been bombarded by chemical weapons, cluster munitions, incendiary devices and barrel bombs. Cities have been starved in medieval sieges, doctors and hospitals systematically attacked, food convoys obliterated or obstructed, and courageous rescuers like the Syrian ‘White Helmets’ deliberately killed. Thousands have been tortured or enslaved.
As one Free Syrian Army fighter said, inside Syria ‘it is like the apocalypse, the end of days’. It also feels like the last gasp of international humanitarian law and a return to a more primitive law of unbridled necessity.… Seguir leyendo »
On a remote, sunny island, some 52 people have been detained for up to nearly five years without trial on secret evidence, with no prospect of release. A series of suicide attempts since 2012 speaks to their profound suffering. One man attempted to hang himself with a bedsheet. Another tried to electrocute himself. Another drank bleach. Another cut himself and used his blood to leave a message on a wall. All remain in detention; the government dismisses them as attention-seekers.
The island is not Cuba, where the United States holds inmates at its prison at Guantánamo Bay, but Australia. Over a decade after 9/11, the long shadow on human rights cast by America’s “war on terror” has extended to one of the world’s most peaceful corners.… Seguir leyendo »