Legitimacy Versus Legality Redux: Arming the Syrian Rebels

The provision of lethal aid to the Syrian rebels appears questionable from a purely legal perspective. It would arguably amount to a use of force. Neither of the traditional legal justifications for the use of force—self-defense and authorization by the Security Council—applies in this case. While humanitarian intervention arguably offers a (weak) basis for the use of force, states would be wise to hesitate before embracing a liberal right to humanitarian intervention, because such operations can serve as convenient subterfuges for armed intervention.

Author

Michael N. Schmitt
Professor of International Law, University of Reading; Francis Lieber Distinguished Scholar, West Point; Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar and Visiting Professor of Law, University of Texas; Charles H. Stockton Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence, U.S. Naval War College.
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