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How russian intervention in syria redefined the right to protect in armed conflict

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The use of military force to forestall humanitarian crisis remains a controversial issue in international law. This strategy is considered antithetical to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the host country. This legal quandary emanated in 1998 after NATO launched a series of airstrikes against the Yugoslavian forces under the doctrine of humanitarian intervention. This legal conundrum prompted the United Nations to craft  comprehensive legal principles to determine the parameters of foreign interventions in armed  conflict. The objective was realised in 2005 after the UN adopted the Right to Protect (R2P) as means of resolving humanitarian crisis. This doctrine intended to harmonise the foreign intervention in light of the shortcomings of unilateral humanitarian intervention. However, the abysmal failure in resolving the Libyan crisis exposed its soft underbelly as tool for perpetuating regime change against unpopular leaders. Subsequently, when Security Council  proposed similar remedy for Syrian conflict, Russia strenuously objected and advocated for a  political and diplomatic solution. This geopolitical gridlock prompted the divided council to adopt a  different scenario in dealing with the Syrian conflict with the west supporting the rebels while  Russia stood by Assad. This prompted Assad to appeal for assistance from Russia in counteracting  ISIS and rebel forces that threatened to depose his government. In 2017 President Putin  announced the success of the Russian intervention and called for peace talks among the various  warring factions. As such Russia had realised the humanitarian objective behind R2P while respecting the sovereignty of Syria.

About the Author

Joseph Lutta
High Court

Advocate of the High Court of Kenya, Partner at Musinga & Company Advocates

P.O. Box 1447-30100, Eldoret, Kenya


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For citation:

Lutta J. How russian intervention in syria redefined the right to protect in armed conflict. Russian Law Journal. 2018;6(2):4-38.

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