British opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said on April 14 that there was no legal basis for British strikes against Syria and such action would encourage others to behave in the same way. He has called for a new War Powers Act, which would require the British government to seek approval from parliament for any future military actions.
In a letter to British Prime Minister Theresa May, Corbyn explained why he opposed the coordinated United States, British and French strikes against Syrian government structures. The coalition fired more than 100 missiles into Syria.
“I believe the action was legally questionable, and this morning the UN secretary general has said as much, reiterating that all countries must act in line with the UN charter,” said Corbyn, ex-national chair of the Stop the War Coalition.
“As I said, I believe that Parliament should have been consulted and voted on the matter. The UK prime minister is accountable to Parliament, not to the whims of a US president.”
Corbyn pointed out the bombing took place before the United Nations or the world’s chemical watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). “It is now vitally important that the OPCW inspectors, who are due to arrive in Douma today, are allowed to do their work and publish their report into their findings — and report to the United Nations Security Council.”
He also used his letter to call on his government to prioritise the role of diplomacy in resolving the Syrian conflict. He also called for taking in more refugees from the war-torn nation to help ease the suffering of the Syrian people.
“Our only priority must be the safety and security of the Syrian people — which is best served by de-escalating this conflict, so that aid can get in.”
The day after releasing his letter, Corbyn told BBC Sunday his reasons for pushing for a new War Powers Act: “The legal basis would have to be self-defence, or the authority of the UN Security Council. Humanitarian intervention is a legally debatable concept at the present time.
“I think parliament should have a say in this, and the prime minister could quite easily have done that … What we need in this country is something more robust, like a war powers act, so that governments do get held to account by parliament for what they do in our name.”
[Compiled from TeleSUR English.]