Remarkable statement by UN Secretary General on US Airstrikes in Syria

Were it not for the title of this post, you might never guess that it was the UN Secretary General who said this today:

 “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.   I think it is undeniable – and the subject of broad international consensus – that these extremist groups pose an immediate threat to international peace and security.”

Admittedly, Ban Ki-moon also said: “As the custodian of the principles of the United Nations, I would like to underscore the importance that all measures must be fully in line with the Charter of the United Nations;” and “Protecting the Syrian people requires immediate action, but action that is rooted in the principles of the United Nations.”

But the excerpted paragraph above surely telegraphs a surprising level of permissiveness if not support for current US airstrikes–despite the lack of clear evidence of consent on the part of Syria, and the contentious “unwilling and unable” standard advocated by the U.S. government. 

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About the Author(s)

Ryan Goodman

Co-Editor-in-Chief of Just Security, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, former Special Counsel to the General Counsel of the Department of Defense (2015-2016). You can follow him on Twitter @rgoodlaw.

Sarah Knuckey

Associate Clinical Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, Director of the Human Rights Clinic, Co-Director of the Human Rights Institute, Former Special Advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions (2007-2016) Follow her on Twitter (@SarahKnuckey).