The Syrian government has various treaties against the possession and use of chemical weapons. Say (as seems likely) that recent chemical attacks in Syria were undertaken by the government. Would any of these treaties give the United States permission to punitive miitary actions?

  • 6
    Voting to close. Law Stack Exchange exists to answer questions of legality. It is almost impossible for the layman to interpret the myriad of Internaltional laws, treaties, pacts and interpretations to provide an answer free from opinion. Any answer is likely to be cherry-picked and child-like in comparison to an actual legal position analysis paper. Apr 7, 2017 at 9:09
  • I rewrote the question to be more on-topic by having it focus on political treaties.
    – Philipp
    Apr 7, 2017 at 13:58
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    Do any of those treaties actually have an enforcement mechanism in the first place?
    – user4012
    Apr 7, 2017 at 14:09
  • @user4012 Not unless a resolution is passed by the security counsel, where U.S has veto rights. Apr 7, 2017 at 14:17
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    @user4012 Or, more relevantly here, not unless a resolution is passed by the security counsel, where Russia has veto rights. Apr 7, 2017 at 14:33

1 Answer 1


Article 42 of the U.N chapter allows for an attack only when international peace or stability is threatened, and article 51 allows for military attacks in self defense. Neither of them seem to be applicable in this case.

Article 41

The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

Article 42

Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.

Article 51

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Emphasize mine.

It is also potentially a violation of the U.S constitution. In Trump's own words:

The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria-big mistake if he does not!

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    The first condition is debatable, and both are fairly subjective.
    – user5155
    Apr 7, 2017 at 15:41
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    @JeffLambert What exactly is debatable? How do you interpret the two articles? And what exactly is subjective? Apr 7, 2017 at 15:44
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    What is debatable is if international peace or stability is currently being threatened by the ongoing conflict. To me it is pretty obvious that it is, whether the actions by the Trump administration in actuality help or hinder is not what I'm arguing.
    – user5155
    Apr 7, 2017 at 15:45
  • @JeffLambert How would international peace or stability be threatened by chemical weapons in Syria? Apr 7, 2017 at 15:51
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    @dan-klasson In the same way they were a threat when Hussein allegedly had them, I'd guess. Apr 7, 2017 at 16:38

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