Global Politics

Author calls for three-prong approach, including legal action, in response to Syria

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A protester wears a headband with a picture of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. (Photo by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters.)

President Barack Obama wants the Syrian government to be punished for an alleged chemical weapons attack in the outskirts of Damascus in August.

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And he wants to hold Syrian President Bashar al-Assad personally accountable for the attack, in which more than 1,400 people were killed.

But while Obama is calling for unilateral military strikes against Syria, others are calling for legal action — rather than, or at least in addition to, military action.

One avenue is to bring Assad before the International Criminal Court in the Hague. That’s what happened to Liberia’s former president Charles Taylor and Serbia’s former President Slobodan Milosevic.

“(But), the International Criminal Court actually doesn’t have the authority to go in and do anything in Syria right now, because Syria hasn’t joined that court,” said Rebecca Hamilton, author of “Fighting for Darfur.”

Hamilton said exceptions have been made in the “worst possible cases, when atrocious crimes threaten international peace and security.” The problem, said Hamilton, is that Russia and China would block any United Nations Security Council resolution to refer the situation to the ICC.

Hamilton said the way to deter the Assad regime is not just through military or legal action but a three-prong approach including diplomatic action as well.

“The most effective way is to have the international community aligned and all three pieces work in parallel," she said.

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