Media seeks academic's international law expertise in Syria debate

04 September 2013

In the run up to the 30 August House of Commons vote on military intervention in Syria, the media called on Dapo Akande, an Oxford Martin School academic, to outline his views on the legality of action.

Mr Akande, co-director of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, was called upon by the media as they debated whether military action was permissible on a humanitarian basis.

His view was that use of force in Syria without UN Security Council authorisation was unlikely to be legal, telling the BBC that although the doctrine of humanitarian intervention came close to providing a legal basis, it was a view that had been “rejected by most states, even the US”.

The situation differed from Kosovo, he said, as the Security Council had not placed any demands on Syria.

He told Channel 4 News that a UN General Assembly vote could give “legitimacy, if not legality” to action, but that this approach was unlikely due to concerns over undermining the authority of the security council.

On BBC Radio 5 Live, he explained that international law was clear on the prohibition of use of force, and that the only exceptions were when a country was acting in self-defence or when UN authorisation had been given.

Mr Akande’s contribution to the debate can be seen by clicking the links below: