The world we inhabit badly needs red lines, but “the right red lines”, writes Falk.
Richard Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is also the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.
Debate on Syria: ‘Missing red line’
What is missing from the debate on Syria, and generally from the challenge to foreign policy, is a more fundamental red line that the US at another time and place took the lead in formulating – namely, the prohibition of the use of international force by states other than in cases of self-defence against a prior armed attack.
This prohibition was the core idea embodied in the United Nations Charter, and it was also consistent with the prosecution and punishment of surviving German and Japanese leaders after World War II for their role in “Crimes against Peace“, that is, aggressive warfare. The only lawful exception to this prohibition was use of force in accord with a prior authorisation given by the UN Security Council.