By Alex Wilde, for the Washington Post
The cries of thousands of Syrian citizens suffering under the war-stricken Assad regime have appeared to have fallen on death ears within the halls of the ILC. The first session saw a variety of well-reasoned opinions expressed, though consensus on how to draft the final report that would provide the international community with clear guidelines on humanitarian intervention remains a distant achievement.
The complexity of international legal concepts makes the task of codification a challenge for the ILC. Discussions from the outset of the session proved promising, with common agreement appeared to be reached in accepting the norm of “Responsibility to Protect” as a sound foundation for intervention. However, it did not take long for focus to be lost as delegates began to raise multiple issues at once, obstructing the flow of debate in the process.
Many of the issues raised were highly important and demand further exploration.
Delegate 1 (delegate names withheld) emphasised that military intervention should be a last resort, and even then operations should be strictly limited to prevent further civilian casualties.
Delegate 6 considered the possibility of circumventing Ch VII (of UN Charter) powers that grant the UN Security Council sole authority to intervene, in light of failures of the UNSC to adequately respond to crises such as Syria.
And Delegate 3 attempted to persuade members to broadly interpret the term ‘intervention’ to include actions of political pressure and structural readjustment, which could drastically alter the operation of current intervention norms as they stand.
Delegates should be commended for raising these issues. The next step is to explore each in further detail, and to consider how to draft them into the final report. ILC members are among the sharpest legal minds in the world; they must maintain the vigour necessary to complete this undertaking by the end of this.