Report: A Bundeswehr deployment in Syria would be a violation of international law and the Basic Law
Politically, the Bundeswehr is still arguing about possible military retaliatory strikes in Syria. Legally, the situation seems to be pretty clear according to a recent report. On Wednesday, the Bundestag will take up the issue.
An involvement of the Bundeswehr in a military action in Syria would violate both international law and the Basic Law according to a Bundestag Scientific Service report.
As a result, any involvement of the Bundeswehr in an action by the Allies in Syria in the form of ‘retaliation’ against poison gas use would be contrary to international law and unconstitutional,” states the 10-page expertise drafted for the German parliament on Monday against the background of the current debate, and published by the German Press Agency.
Proceedings of the Western powers in April were classified as contrary to international law
On Monday, it had become known that the defense ministry is considering a German involvement in a “retaliatory” action if the government forces of Bashar al-Assad were to commit a poison gas attack during the reconquest of the jihadist stronghold of Idlib. In April, following an alleged use of chemical warfare agents in Syria, Germany did not participate in the bombardment by the US, Britain, and France.
Even then, the Scientific Service of the Bundestag had classified the actions of the Western powers as contrary to international law. The assessment that a Bundeswehr involvement would violate the Basic Law, on the other hand, is new.
The parliamentary mandate of such a Bundeswehr deployment would then be unnecessary, since the Bundestag may only mandate foreign missions, based on a viable constitutional and international legal basis,” it says in the report.
In the view of the Scientists of the Bundestag, the government should therefore not submit such an intervention to parliament for parliamentary approval. SPD leader Andrea Nahles has already given such an intervention a political rejection. Several politicians of the Union and the FDP, however, have pleaded for keeping the option open.
“If there would also be a use of poison gas in Idlib, Germany would have to ask our friends’ requests for support very seriously, especially if our skills are requested,” said the foreign policy spokesman for the Union faction in the Bundestag, Jürgen Hardt, according to the Passauer Neue Presse.
His party colleague Norbert Röttgen told the newspapers of the Funke media group: “Germany should consider participating in a military operation in Syria with its allies USA, France, and Great Britain under certain conditions.” Röttgen is Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Bundestag, which has the lead in mandating Bundeswehr operations.
The Federal government has not categorically excluded anything
The Greens also do not want to exclude intervention by the Bundeswehr completely. For its part, the Federal Government has not categorically excluded participation in a military operation. So far, however, it has not yet made it own legal assessment of the air strikes of the Western powers in April. For the first opinion of the Scientific Service on the subject the government is silent.
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The experts for the Bundestag emphasize the following points in particular:
International reprisals in the form of military retaliatory strikes are basically inadmissible. This applies even if a government has violated a central standard of international law, as would be the case with the use of chemical weapons.
Support of acts contrary to international law is itself contrary to international law
Britain’s argument that it is a “humanitarian intervention” to protect the civilian population does not count for the Scientific Service, because bombing was first and foremost about enforcing the ban on chemical weapons and not about protecting the population ,
As for compatibility with the Basic Law, the scientists write:
The participation of Germany in a military action in violation of international law can never be constitutional.
German authorities should not “participate in a violation of third countries against general rules of international law”. According to the scientists, it does not matter whether German Tornado or Eurofighter jets drop bombs on Syria or fire missiles. “The (mere) military-logistical support of such a military mission would also be contrary to the law of state responsibility as supporting a violation of international law which itself is a violation of international law.” On Wednesday, the defense committee of the Bundestag wants to deal with the topic. In the afternoon, the topics of foreign affairs and defense will be on the agenda in Parliament’s budget debate. Here, too, Syria will play a central role.