FCNL to Congress: Non-Military Steps in Syria

Sep 3, 2013

See the PDF here


TO: Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate
RE: Actions In Lieu of U.S. Military Action in Syria
FROM: Diane Randall, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation
DATE: September 5, 2013

There are high risks associated with a U.S. military attack on Syria; this memo offers the necessary next steps in dealing with this crisis.

Convene a high-level meeting of state parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention to respond to violations in Syria. The U.S. should convene a meeting of all the parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention so that the 189 countries that are signatories are required to respond to this violation, and the global norm against use of chemical weapons is maintained. The U.S. has a responsibility to work with a broad international coalition to uphold the universal prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. U.S. strikes would undermine this effort.

Initiate a diplomatic process with Russia – in light of Russia’s new willingness, announced this week, to work with the U.N. Security Council – as well as Iran and China, since both countries have condemned use of chemical weapons in Syria, to discuss ways of ensuring accountability under international law. The countries enabling Bashar al-Assad are the ones with the most leverage to stop his brutality. The G20 meetings are an optimal venue for this conversation.

Strategize a political solution in concert with the League of Arab States and the 57-member Organization for Islamic Cooperation. These two political bodies encompass the entirety of Muslim-and-Arab-majority nations and the political entities that have leverage over the parties to the Syrian civil war. Given the international consensus that the US cannot offer a military solution to the civil war in Syria, explore a high-level strategy that implements a ceasefire between Syrian rebels and the Syrian government, and, if necessary, a political transition process.

Broaden the debate with the U.N. General Assembly and U.N. Security Council to ensure that standards of international law are upheld within the international community. This is the first step towards bringing Bashar al-Assad to justice through the International Criminal Court, where he can be indicted and arrested for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The precedents and precepts of international law should not be undermined by any nation, including the U.S.

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