David Davenport: Why Hasn’t International Law Stopped Chemical Weapons in Syria?

Where is international law when you need it? The Syrian government has again used chemical weapons on its own people, despite signing the international convention banning chemical weapons as well as a specific agreement to destroy them.

So why is this still happening? It’s one thing for countries to sign treaties but, if they turn out to be against their interest, they simply violate them later. Unfortunately there is very little enforcement of international law. The U.N. Security Council is usually blocked from acting by the veto of one or more of its permanent members.

So the U.S. is left to come to the rescue of international law and the Syrian people. One could question one nation taking it upon itself to enforce a treaty, but the soft nature of international law has never been strong on enforcement. It also doesn’t stop unilateral enforcement either if there’s a consensus that such action is appropriate.

Stay tuned, the legal questions are likely to get more complicated in Syria.