The Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order urges all parties to the Syrian conflict to pause for a moment and give reason and law a chance. An international investigation into all allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria (and elsewhere) must be conducted. Only a thorough professional investigation can establish the facts and the responsibilities, which may necessitate referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
A fundamental component of the rule of law is due process, which encompasses conventional and customary rules intended to prevent arbitrariness and consequent miscarriages of justice. No one is served by rushing to conclusions, least of all the war victims. What is important is to expedite humanitarian aid to civilians and to obtain a cease fire. Violating the fundamental rules of penal law, including the presumption of innocence, weakens the credibility and predictability of legal institutions and could constitute a grave threat to regional and international peace within the meaning of article 39 of the UN Charter, undermining a democratic and equitable international order.
Sabre-rattling, war mongering and propaganda for war are incompatible with the UN Charter and with article 20, paragraph 1, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. “We the peoples” of this planet want peace, and that requires good will and perseverance in reaffirming the rule of law and the culture of dialogue and negotiation.
Violating the prohibition of the use of force stipulated in article 2(4) of the UN Charter could entail not only the crime of aggression under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Law, but would almost certainly lead to crimes against humanity and war crimes. There must be no impunity for those who use chemical weapons and no impunity for those who commit crimes of aggression.
Alfred de Zayas
UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order
Tel. 022 7882231