Syria: a Defining Moment For Chemical Weapons?

Oliver Meier describes the long-term significance (even beyond the incredible human suffering) of Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons on August 21, and outlines six major steps for response. Quoting: ‘The attack in August is a historic event with wider implications. Its impact on the role of chemical weapons in international security in general will depend primarily on the responses. Looking beyond the current crisis, failure to respond to the attacks could undermine the taboo against chemical weapons. …

First, a unified response by the international community is essential. The strength of international norms depends primarily on great-power support. So far, such a unified response is sorely lacking. Judgments about how to react to the use of chemical weapons appear to be tainted by preferences about the shape of a post-war Syria. This has already damaged the international chemical weapons legal regime.’

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