Intervening in Syria Would be Illegal. It Would Also be Right. (Post)

Published in the Globe and Mail, May 1, 2013 If the United States becomes convinced that Bashar al-Assad’s regime has started using chemical weapons against its own citizens, the “red line” set down by President Barack Obama will have been crossed. If the U.S. initiates military action as a consequence, it will provoke the same questions of legality that ar… Read More

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Misinterpreting Mali: The Uses and Abuses of R2P (Post)

As argued in this space recently, there are sound legal and political justifications for the intervention of French and West African troops in northern Mali. Further, the apparent achievements of the operation so far lend support to those who argue it is feasible to defeat the Islamist insurgency. But lasting success will depend on the extent to which the r… Read More

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Canada Abandons International Justice Effort in Syria (Post)

In the past week, amidst the crisis in Mali and the hostage crisis at the gas plant in southern Algeria, the world’s attention shifted away from the ongoing bloodshed in Syria. This perhaps explains how the Canadian media missed what appears to be a major, and disturbing, shift in our policy towards Syria. Last week, Canada declined to join with dozens of othe… Read More

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Mulling Over Mali (Post)

To those of us deeply skeptical of the deployment of Western military force in the developing world, the French intervention in Mali in recent days poses something of a dilemma. It appears to be legally and militarily justified, and enjoys strong local and regional support. Yet at the same time, it appears to be based on the same  assumptions about Western ai… Read More

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Stolypin and Russia’s Veto of the Syria Resolution (Post)

The Russian veto of the UN Security Council resolution on Syria has had leaders and pundits in the West lining up to denounce the Russians, accusing them of revealing their autocratic tendencies and putting their own narrow trading interests (for instance arms exports) over issues of human rights. A 100-year old document I found last week in the State Archi… Read More

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A New Cold War on Democracy and Human Rights at the UN Security Council and Beyond? (Post)

On February 4th, 2012, the UN Security Council witnessed what could be one of the first salvos in a new cold war focused on democracy and human rights. A double veto by Russia and China defeated the resolution drafted by the Arab League (and supported by almost all the Arab states along with all the other members of the UN Security Council) that was aimed at stopp… Read More

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Libya Intervention of 2011: A Victory With Asterisks (Post)

This article first appeared in the Winter 2011 issue of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute Quarterly Review. The grotesque display of Muammar Qaddafi’s bloodied corpse in Sirte, Libya, where he was captured and killed, and later in a Misrata meat locker, did little to build confidence in the commitment of Libya’s rebels to due process and t… Read More

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The UN Security Council and Abdelrazik (Post)

Canadian Abousfian Abdelrazik is on the U.S. Security Council’s Al Qaida sanctions committee list. His assets are frozen and he is subject to an international travel ban. His case generated substantial notoriety when the Canadian government resisted his repatriation from Sudan on the basis, among other things, of his listing. It has generated even more… Read More

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Libya and Canada’s Political Influence: A Different Perspective (Post)

Did Canada play a critical political role in relation to the Libya intervention? My colleague Roland Paris is skeptical. In an earlier post on this blog, he points out that Canada’s political influence was secondary at best, since the Canadian government lost a bid to have a seat on the United Nations Security Council, which authorized and (ostensibly) set… Read More

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Did Canada Play a “Critical” Role in Libya? (Post)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper continues to take bows for Canada’s involvement in the Libya mission. “Canada has played a critical role both politically and militarily to protect innocent civilians against a cruel and oppressive regime,” he said in a statement issued today. Mr. Harper certainly deserves credit for committing Canadian ships and airpla… Read More

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