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Would It Be Lawful For European (or other) States to Provide Arms to the Syrian Opposition?

A week ago (January 10), the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague gave a speech in Parliament in which he appeared to suggest that European Union countries should consider providing arms to the opposition in Syria (see BBC reports and video here and here). From the lawyer’s perspective, one key question that arises is whether it would be lawful, under international law, for States to provide weapons to the Syrian opposition. In his speech William Hague stated that “we are determined that all our actions will uphold UK and international law, and support justice and accountability for the Syrian people themselves.” But would this be so were the UK to supply arms to the Syrian opposition? What arguments can be used to support the legality of the provision of arms and how strong are those arguments? In this post, I consider the possible legal arguments that may be made by European States. As I explain below, each of these arguments has considerable problems. At present, European Union sanctions on Syria include…

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Self Determination and the Syrian Conflict – Recognition of Syrian Opposition as Sole Legitimate Representative of the Syrian People: What Does this Mean and What Implications Does it Have?

A couple of weeks ago, the United Kingdom recognised the umbrella Syrian opposition organization, National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (NCS) as the “sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people”. In so doing, the UK was following a number of other States that have also recognised NCS as the legitimate or sole legitimate representative of…

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Syrian and Turkish Military Activities and International Law

Dr. Başak Çali, Senior Lecturer in Human Rights and International Law, Department of Political Science, University College London A shell fired from Syria into the back garden of 38 year old Zeliha Timuçin, in the  town of Akçakale, Turkey on 3 October 2012 killed her, her 3 children and her sister in…

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Update on State Immunity

For those interested in recent developments in domestic state immunity acts, see earlier posts here and here, Canada has now announced that Iran will be formally listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. Canada has closed its embassy in Iran and declared personae non gratae all remaining Iranian diplomats in Canada. The news release…

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International Commissions of Inquiry: A New Form of Adjudication?

Dr Hannah Tonkin is a Legal Officer in the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. She previously worked at the ICTR and ICTY and taught international law at the University of Oxford. She is the author of State Control over Private Military and Security Companies in Armed Conflict, 2011 (ISBN 9781107008014)…

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