PIL Talks! 11 Feb on the legal basis for using force in Syria

The Legal Basis for Using Force in Syria: The Role of Law in Political Decision-Making on Military Missions

With the decision-making around fighting ISIS on Syrian territory, the discussions flare up again around the legal basis (or in Dutch ‘Volkenrechtelijk mandaat’) of using force. The Dutch government presented in their letter to inform parliament that the Netherlands will use force against ISIS on Syrian territory, that they have legal basis to do so with regard to targets that help defend Iraq against armed attacks from ISIS, yet that there is no legal basis to use force against ISIS in the context of the internal armed conflict within Syria. That there will be murky water around these distinctions is not hard to understand. Yet, more interestingly, it begs the question of the importance and the role of law and legal reasoning with regard to using force abroad. With the increasingly important role of the legal basis for using force, the question arises how this legalized reasoning shapes the political debate and decision-making. How important is law and the legal basis of using force in relation to considerations of military and humanitarian necessity and proportionality? How does the political sphere deal with the indeterminacy of the law on use of force, and thus that there are many ways to argue for or against the existence of a legal basis?

The next PIL Talks!@VU will discuss this theme. It is not interested in pointing out that in the end, all is politics, nor that law is overarchingly important. Rather, it aims to have a conversation on how important law and the legal basis for using force is, and how it shapes political discourse. How is dealt with the situation that law is not ultimately crystal clear and allows for contrary positions? And even if the legal basis is unclear (such as which is argued for interfering with the Syrian civil war), then how important is the fact that it would be illegal if military and humanitarian reasoning suggests to resort to force nevertheless?

It is questions like these and others that are discussed during the next PIL Talks! @VU, taking place on Thursday 11 February at 17.15, in the open Concilium area of the Law Faculty (Initium building). For more information, contact Marieke de Hoon.

The PIL Talks! discussions are open for all to attend, whether you want to stop by to listen in or want to be engaged in the discussion more actively. Some drinks will be provided but you are free to also bring your own. International Law professor Wouter Werner (VU), Middle East expert Paul Aarts (UvA) and student Andrew Merrylees (UvA/VU) will kick the discussions off with their pitches. PIL Talks! @VU Discussing world events & global politics from a Public International Law perspective Concilium, 2nd floor Initium building The dates for the other PIL Talks! 2015/2016 are: 14 Apr – 17.15h 9 June – 17.15h