Por: Lander Michel 

Abogado – Internacionalista / Universidad Jesuita de Guadalajara; Magíster en Derecho Internacional / Universidad de Leiden

Correo electrónico: lmichel@miderainternational.com

(…)“I am going to say something about the United Nations position on Syria.” (…) (…)“I am aware that today’s strikes were not carried out at the direct request of the Syrian Government, but I note that the Government was informed beforehand. I also note that the strikes took place in areas no longer under the effective control of that Government.”(…)

These words uttered by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters on the 23 September 2014 (http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocus/sgspeeches/statments_full.asp?statID=2356#.VCNAIRajhfs),  come at an unfortunate time; the fact that airstrikes seem to have been “accepted” by the UN despite the lack of a UN resolution is contrary to International Law and an act of aggression as the Russian Foreign Minister mentioned http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29166932.

The fact that the criteria for the UN General Secretary to “accept” the strikes were that the government of the country being attacked was notified and because the territory where the strikes took place are not under the effective control of the government; this has broad implications as regards foreign intervention in a sovereign state. This is unfortunate because there are many regions where, based on the UN statement, foreign intervention can be, apparently, tolerated or accepted; by analogy, any territory not effectively controlled by a government can be attacked, prior notification of course, this is especially of interest seeing ongoing conflicts in differents regions of Eurasia where governments are not in effective control as well as in South-East Asia where a series of islands, claimed by many, but effectively controlled by very few, could be the future targets of strikes and, perhaps, annexation.

Does the threshold for intervention then lie on effective control by a government; if so, then the UN has opened Pandora’s Box for the official position of the UN Secretary-General leaves a very grey area of what is then to be considered an act of aggression and what not and when an intervention in a foreign State is, apparently, sanctioned by the UN. What is as noteworthy is the omission of a humanitarian justification for the intervention to be sanctioned by the UN. It will be of interest to see if in future interventions this statement by the Secretary-General is quoted as I have reason to believe.



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