Canadian Government Breaking International Law With Invasion of Syria

Harper has made it clear that he intends on hiding behind the U.S. and following their footsteps into Syria, despite legal experts deeming the move to be unjust and illegal. This week Harper divulged his year-long plan to extend the current combat mission against the Islamic State in Iraq. Not only that, but he also wants to give the Canadian Armed Forces the authorization to now launch air strikes in Syria along with the U.S. Both the New Democrats and the Liberals have stated that they will vote against the initiative, affirming that they would rather see the nation pour efforts toward humanitarian and diplomatic solutions over continued or increased warfare. 


“As our allies [the U.S.] have indicated, they are taking necessary and proportionate military action in Syria on the basis that the government of Syria is unwilling or unable to prevent ISIL from staging operations and conducting attacks there, including ultimately attacks that include this country as a target. That is the legal basis on which we are proceeding,” Harper said. However, if it were true that the government was incapable of defending the area, then why would it be difficult to seek approval from the President of Syria? Does the request to foreign leaders not need to be made if we simply assume that they are unwilling to comply with our specific plans for the invasion of their country?


Harper tried to rally support by proposing that airstrikes in Syria would be “denying safe haven” to ISIS, and that by fighting them over there then we wouldn't need to fight them over here on Canadian soil. Despite his fears, there are many reasons to reject the newly proposed plan to further Canadian military involvement overseas via airstrikes in Syria. One of the most pressing reasons, is that Harper hasn't detailed any clear explanation of what exactly a victory would look like. Legal experts also contend that Canada does not have the right under international law to conduct strikes in Syria because Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has not given his consent. "The United States wrote to the [UN] secretary-general as required under Article 51 of the UN Charter and laid out their legal case for their planned intervention in Syria. Has the prime minister written to the United Nations laying out Canada's justification for their planned intervention in Syria?" asked NDP Leader Tom Mulcair. 


Under the UN Charter, there's only two ways to seek the justification to use force against another country. One way is in self-defense, if you're attacked (or if there are imminent threats being made) then the Charter allows you to defend yourself. The second method to seek initiating force against another country is to go to the Security Council in the United Nations and try to get a majority of nine to agree to the use of force. However, this wouldn't be the first time that a nation was attacked without UN authorization being sought and confirmed beforehand. Harper has made it clear already that he will not be seeking the approval of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. “This is not Canada’s tradition. Canada's tradition is to uphold international law. Canada’s tradition is to try to assist and convince others to uphold international law…. [this mission] would be totally contrary to Canada’s history and traditions.”  said lawyer and MP Jack Harris.



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