Letter by Bruce Kent on the bombing of chemical weapons installation in Syria

Peace and Disarmament

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The following letter was sent by Bruce Kent to the Tablet Journal on the recent bombing carried out by the UK, France and the US of Syrian chemical weapons installations

The Tablet Editorial ( 21st April ) on the bombing of Syria by Britain,France and the United States , does not fully explain the role of the UN in such situations.

The United Nations , as the Preamble to the Charter says, was founded to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war’. Article 51 of that Charter is clear. There is a right to immediate military retaliation by a UN member if attacked. The three states organising the recent bombing were not attacked. However this independent action is only permissible until the Security Council has taken over responsibility. There is no reason to suppose that bombing was, anyway, the only response possible.

The Veto? The Security Council has ‘ primary responsibility’ only ( Art 24) for the maintenance of international peace and security. If a military response is thought necessary by the majority of States but is blocked by a Security Council veto, then, as in the Korean situation of many years ago, the issue can be taken to the General Assembly.

Professor Akande, Oxford Professor of Public International Law, has said of the recent bombing that it was not ‘in accordance with the UN Charter and International Law’. His is not a lone voice.

That Parliament was not consulted seems to be, in this country, the only issue of concern. It is just as grave a matter that the United Nations was effectively ignored. Please God, the UN is not going down the same road as the League of Nations did before World War 2.

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