Syria: Unfair economic sanctions between reality and illegality (VT Exclusive)


Dr. Najem Al Ahmad,  Editor, VT Damascus (former Minister of Justice/Syrian Arab Republic) Professor of Public Law at Damascus University

For nearly a decade the Syrian people have been fighting all manifestations of transgression and aggression simultaneous with terrorist operations unprecedented in history. Terrorism has been linked to and perpetration of the most heinous crimes that were not taught in law faculties, and not known to the hardened criminals, who practice murder and terrorize the innocent, not least of which is slaughter in front of them. The world, or dismemberment, or eating human livers… All this is supported and blessed by countries that have always glorified freedom and human rights, and provided murder and criminal gangs with all kinds of material and moral support.

VT’s Nahed al Husaini, far right and Dr. Najm 2nd from right

In these days when the harsh winter, and where the children of the world live in safety with their families near the heaters, the children of our country, as well as the elderly, women and the sick, do not find the slightest necessities of life, such as medicine, treatment, food and clothing, and no fuel, electricity or water, all because of the siege unjust, and unjustly imposed by the civilized countries on an entire people without guilt, to satisfy political agendas, and give lip service to false tidings.

VT’s Colonel Hanke, Duff and Najm, Damascus Conference

The United States has found its need in the so-called “Caesar’s Law” for using it as a political card to pressure its political opponents, and the field is the Syrian state as usual.

In a related context, in order for some of its leaders to hide the internal and external problems they are exposed to, as well as to stay near the occupied Syrian oil fields for as long as possible, the fields that were seized by the terrorist organization “ISIS” first, with direct support from the United States, but after the defeat of this organization the terrorists had no choice but to place their hand directly on those fields, so their work would be in the original and not by proxy.

Didn’t Trump say: “Syrian oil is in our hands, we can do whatever we want with it”?

Carla, Najm and Nana, VT Damascus

Does the interest of the Syrian people lie in supporting the aggression against it, and supporting the barbaric terrorist forces that killed, destroyed and destroyed all the landmarks of civilization and civilization in the state? How can it be believed that there are those who are keen to protect the Syrian people, while every day they cause the deaths of thousands of innocent Syrians, and prevent the entry of humanitarian aid into Syria?

Our country has witnessed major events since 2011 to date, in which the state faced enormous and unprecedented challenges, it began with acts of violence and terrorism, until the sabotage extended everywhere, and thousands of the best Syrian youth went while they were in the midst of defending their homeland. Universities, schools, and hospitals were destroyed.

And the rest of the state’s infrastructure, factories, monuments, and museums were looted, houses were destroyed, a large number of people disappeared, and their fate is still unknown, and terrorist organizations did not hesitate to mass murder and bury the victims in mass graves, all simultaneously with financial support. Weapons, equipment, supplies, facilitating transit, logistical and intelligence support, providing terrorists with the latest weapons, maps, and satellite images, and the expenditures required of hundreds of billions of dollars, a role played by the forces of evil and aggression from countries that have long claimed to oppose and fight terrorism.

And it seeks democracy, freedom, and human rights, but the Syrian crisis exposed all of them, and proved that colonialism is colonialism, even if it changes its color and style, and that its interests are the first, even if the price of that is killing all others, or exiling them, or displacing them.

Is the international community, and the intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, which exceed thousands, oblivious to what is happening in our country?

I do not think so. These organizations, which were often created by certain countries, did not exist to condemn these countries, but rather to be a means of pressure on other countries to allow the political agendas of the countries that created them to pass. Their work depends only on what these countries want, but that Its weakness derives from the weakness of international law in its entirety, the rules of which were formulated by the great powers that have the first and last word.

They had an interest in it, as international law is in its weakest state today, and it hardly exceeds in its value the strength of the rules of ethics and courtesies, meaning that it lacks any legal supporter through which everyone can be persuaded to comply with what these rules command or forbid.

Indeed, international organizations, including the United Nations, and its specialized agencies, have become, as is the case in European capitals, a hotbed for murderers, terrorists and outlaws.

Terrorism has become internationally protected in a blatant way, after its protection was carried out in secret, in a dangerous precedent that is the first of its kind, a precedent that everyone will pay for at some time, because terrorism has no religion, no homeland, and does not recognize geographical borders.

We did not hear about a terrorist who became a reformer, planting roses instead of throwing bombs, or taking pleasure in killing others.

But the foregoing should not make us deviate from the idea of ​​recalling that what our country is subjected to today contradicts the most basic recognized international rights, international conventions and norms, and relevant charters. The issue of economic sanctions imposed on the Syrian Arab Republic is a political, economic, legal and moral issue at the same time. It is a political method that aims to impose specific political agendas, interfere in the internal affairs of the state, and try to impose a new type of hegemony that restores terrorism after it was defeated in most of the Syrian geography. Unfair and illegal on our people.

With regard to the illegality of the unilateral coercive sanctions imposed on our country, it should be recalled that under Article 41 of the Charter of the United Nations, the Security Council is the competent authority to decide what measures should be taken that do not aim at the use of armed force, and it has the right to invite members of The United Nations has to apply these measures, and it may be among them that the whole or partial severance of economic relations. The Security Council needs the approval of most of its member states before passing the penalty.

Any economic sanctions that are imposed outside the scope of the Security Council, as is the case with the Caesar Act, for example, are considered sanctions that lack legal document and therefore have no legitimacy. In these penalties, the penalties imposed on the state and its public institutions are often confused with those imposed on individuals, which increases the suffering of the people in any country against which such penalties are imposed.

These sanctions have contributed to increasing the suffering of the Syrian citizen who has suffered from the scourge of terrorism, so prices have risen dramatically, and what has increased in that is the illegal interference of the United States in Syria in parts of the eastern region, and the seizure of oil fields and their regular looting, through cooperation with terrorist organizations and separatist forces.

Even in the case where the Security Council imposes economic sanctions at the time of armed conflicts, it is necessary to observe the rules of international humanitarian law, and the rules of human rights law if they are imposed in times of peace. And whoever is imposing economic sanctions, that is, whether by the Security Council or by a state (in implementation of a Security Council resolution), humanitarian requirements must be taken into account, taking into account the rules related to the protection of civilians and groups at risk due to armed conflicts.

Thus, according to the provisions of international law, civilians may not be deprived of the supplies necessary for their lives, starving them is prohibited, and therefore it is not permissible to impose encirclement, siege, or economic sanctions with the intent of starving civilians.

Civilians are also entitled to receive humanitarian aid through provisions that require states to allow the passage of relief items under certain conditions, and provisions that allow humanitarian agencies to provide impartial humanitarian assistance, subject to the consent of the concerned state, in the event that civilians are experiencing severe hardship due to a lack of necessary supplies for their lives, eg food, and medical supplies. States must allow the free passage of essential foodstuffs for children, pregnant women, and maternity cases, as well as the free passage of medical supplies, and necessities of worship, to the general civilian population.

The so-called “San Remo Guide” included the text of these commitments as well, as the text stated that: “The blockade force must allow the passage of relief shipments through the blockade.”

According to international human rights law, human beings have the right to life, health and an adequate standard of living, including food, housing, clothing, medical care, and freedom from hunger. These obligations impose on states the obligation to act in order to fulfill them.

Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic and Cultural Rights lists some provisions related to the right to life, so that the states party to this covenant recognize the right of every person to an acceptable standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing, and housing, as well as his right to the continuous improvement of his living conditions. States parties must take appropriate steps to ensure that this right is upheld.

In addition to the foregoing, Article 36 of the Genocide Convention protects the “collective right to life,” prohibiting deliberate starvation of any national, ethnic, racial or religious group with the intent of destroying this group. This appears through the convention’s definition of genocide, this text applies in times of war and peace.

By examining the above, we find that the unjust economic sanctions imposed on Syria lack the slightest legal or moral basis, and this is due to:

  • Issuance of it by a non-competent body: It has been previously said that the Security Council is the only body competent to impose international economic sanctions in accordance with the provisions of Articles 39 and 41 of the Charter of the United Nations, which represents the legal framework for the reliance of the United Nations, represented by the Security Council, in imposing sanctions. international economic situation for a particular country. According to Article 39, the Security Council decides whether there is a threat to international peace and security, or an act of aggression has taken place, and makes a recommendation to do so, and decides what measures must be taken in accordance with the provisions of Articles (41) and (42) of the Charter of the United Nations. United Nations in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Accordingly, any country cannot substitute for the UN Security Council in imposing these sanctions, as this constitutes a serious violation of the Charter of the United Nations.

  • The unilateral economic sanctions imposed on Syria violate the rules of international humanitarian law and the rules of human rights law: rules that even the Security Council must adhere to if it imposes such sanctions. Moreover, economic sanctions – even if imposed by the Security Council – should not reduce the standard of living of a large segment of people below the subsistence level, nor should they deprive people of the basic human rights to life and survival. Including the right to life, health and an adequate standard of living (food, housing, clothing, medical care…).

The foregoing clarifies a small part of the reality of the economic sanctions imposed on our country unfairly and aggressively, without taking into account the most basic principles of international law and human rights, from countries that have long praised these rules in order to take them as a means of pressure on countries, their governments and their peoples every time the aggressor countries want to impose their political agendas And every time you want to subjugate countries, and make them go on their way, to be submissive, servile, without will, no independence in their political decisions, and no authority over their economic resources.

Unjust countries have legislated for themselves the right of collective punishment, and they have no problem with thousands dying, starving, or homeless, while the media race to portray a policeman or a military man wrapping a cat suffering from cold, or a hungry dog, so this policeman or soldier appears as if an angel descended from the sky And our media does not delay in filming this scene, and we, in turn, do not hesitate to express our admiration for it, forgetting what the government of this policeman caused us in terms of killing, wounding, and pain.

To sum up:

We must make use of our own capabilities as much as possible, so we do not wait for the sky to rain gold and silver, nor do we wait for the attacking countries to review their inhuman policies, for this is a far-fetched goal, and it is not conceivable that it will happen in the short term.

We must remember that we are not the first country to impose such sanctions, and we will not be the last. Similar sanctions have already been imposed on Cuba, Iran, Russia… and many other countries, but most of these countries are now in a better position than the one they were in. It was on her when these penalties were imposed on her.

It will not work to hold the government alone responsible, without that I mean denying its responsibility, and what it must do, nor for the people alone to bear the consequences of economic sanctions.

Fight Terrorism until its elimination. Continue investing every piece of arable land, working to return the looted or smuggled funds, reviewing tax and financial policies to be more realistic and fair, strengthening the requirements of political, judicial, and administrative reform, combating corruption, exploitation, monopoly, and strengthening the principle of legality, The rule of law, and most importantly, that we be merciful to each other, and that our preoccupation with the government and people is the sovereignty of our country, and the independence of its decision…

These are simple ingredients that all need a bit of will and determination in order to put them into practice.

Damascus on 6/2/2022



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