Oppose all Illegal Use of Force in the Middle East - Esp. Yemen

The UN Charter prohibits the “threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” Exceptions are made only when the UN security council (UNSC) authorizes military action or when it is in self-defence. Although some countries talk about eliminating a threat before it manifests itself – “anticipatory self-defence” – this is only justified “when danger posed is instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.” The Saudi-led intervention in Yemen – with US and UK support – does not have the necessary UNSC authorization for military force; nor was it justified by anticipatory self-defence. Canada ought to be vocally critical of its allies’ illegal actions within the region. Canada ought to also be vocally skeptical of allies’ use of Right to Protect principles to justify the use of force in the Middle East.

Overview

The UN Charter prohibits the “threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” Exceptions are made only when the UN security council (UNSC) authorizes military action or when it is in self-defence. Although some countries talk about eliminating a threat before it manifests itself – “anticipatory self-defence” – this is only justified “when danger posed is instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.”[i] The Saudi-led intervention in Yemen – with US and UK support – does not have the necessary UNSC authorization for military force; nor was it justified by anticipatory self-defence. Canada is indirectly supporting the Saudi intervention in Yemen by providing arms to Saudi Arabia, and by refusing to condemn the intervention. Canada also failed to condemn the illegal US intervention in Iraq in 2003.

Canada ought to be vocally critical of its allies’ illegal actions within the region. The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) Doctrine is sometimes cited to justify military intervention, but just like the UN Charter, such intervention is only permissible under certain conditions and the use of the force still must be authorized by the UNSC. Since R2P was passed at the UN World Summit in 2005, it has been legally invoked only in specific cases.[ii] Canada ought to be vocally skeptical of allies’ use of R2P principles to justify use of force in the Middle East.

Questions for Federal Candidates

  • Do you believe that Canada should oppose all illegal interventions in the Middle East?
  • Do you believe that Canada should do more to avert armed conflict and promote diplomatic solutions to conflicts in the Middle East?
  • Do you believe that Canada is critical enough of its allies’ foreign policy in the Middle East?

If elected:

  • Will you work within your caucus to critically debate military interventions in the Middle East, and to oppose illegal interventions?
  • Will you work within your caucus to discuss the need for a stronger international framework to minimise the depredations of war in the Middle East?

Supporting Points

  • UN Charter. International law prohibits the use of force unless authorised by the UNSC. The UNSC has not passed the necessary resolution to authorize armed force in Yemen.
  • Laws of War. Two basic principles under the laws of war are “civilian immunity” and “distinction” which require that civilians may never be the deliberate target of attacks and that parties to a conflict must always distinguish between combatants and civilians. In addition to being illegal under the UN Charter, Saudi led-military action in Yemen is breaking the Fourth Geneva Convention by failing to respect civilian immunity and protect Yemeni civilians. Worse, there are reports that the Saudi-led coalition even fails to consult its own “no-strike list” of more than 30,000 civilian sites in Yemen; including refugee camps and hospitals.[iii] There is little evidence of any attempt by any party in the conflict to minimise civilian causalities.
  • Responsibility to Protect. The R2P was adopted to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. The R2P has developed out of the need for a clean and coherent framework to respond to the inconsistent and uncoordinated way the UN and the international community exercise the right to humanitarian intervention.[iv] Like UNSC-authorized interventions, the R2P can only be sanctioned multi-laterally and was not invoked in 2015 for Yemen.

Recommendations for Canada

  • Canada must guide the international community away from illegal military actions by ending its indirect and/or implicit support for such actions.
  • Canada should encourage and support better international cooperation to minimize armed conflict and its inevitable civilian causalities.

 

 

[i]  A quote from the proceedings of a famous legal case between the UK and the USA from 1843, known as the “Caroline Doctrine.”  During Security Council deliberations on the Osirik attack, the Caroline Doctrine was cited with approval by Iraq

[ii] The Responsibility to Protect principle has only been officially invoked in the following cases: Darfur 2006, Libya 2011, Cote d’Ivoire 2011, Yemen 2011, Sudan and South Sudan 2011, and Mali 2012.  It was not invoked to justify the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen in 2015.

[iii] Wintour, P. (2018, August 28). All sides in Yemen may be responsible for war crimes, say UN experts. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/28/all-sides-in-yemen-may-be-responsible-for-war-crimes-say-un-experts

[iv] Halt, B. (2012, August 8). The Legal Character of R2P and the UN Charter. Retrieved from https://www.e-ir.info/2012/08/08/the-legal-basis-of-the-responsibility-to-protect/

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  • Abdul Basit
    commented 2019-07-18 13:50:16 -0400
    stop all illegal use of force against Human beings in the Middle East.