Yesterday, in Washington DC, Guernica 37 Chambers (“G37”) launched its legal initiative ‘Cross-Border Aid into Syria is Legal’, which aims to create, consolidate, and apply legal resources to the Syrian context to support relevant actors in the continuation of UN-coordinated cross-border aid in the absence of a UN Security Council mandate, at a time when the progressive politicisation of that mandate threatens this lifeline in a manner that risks causing a foreseeable, avoidable, and massive humanitarian crisis for 4.1M people in north and north-west Syria.
The Initiative launch follows 6-months of preparatory work, during which G37 has been building legal material on this vital issue with prominent scholars, including a former-UN Under Secretary General for Legal Affairs, and have engaged with more than 12 governments, UN agencies, and non-governmental organisations between New York and several Capitals, the legal position advanced being that:
Whilst the Security Council mandate may have given a clearer legal basis for doing so in the fractured and fast-moving Syrian conflict in 2014, given the new facts of the conflict and how cross-border aid is currently being implemented, it is now, in 2022, just one legal basis upon which UN Agencies may continue to provide cross-border aid in Syria in a manner that conforms fully with Syria’s rights to sovereignty and territorial integrity under international law.
The Campaign was launched at an event hosted by the American Relief Coalition for Syria (“ARCS”) to launch its report ‘2014 is not 2022: Why the Continuation of UN-Coordinated Cross-Border Aid into Syria Absent a Security Council Resolution is Lawful’, which was drafted by G37 Members Jack Sproson and Ibrahim Olabi, on ARCS’ instructions. The hybrid event was hosted at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and was attended by over 60 high-level stakeholders from political, governmental, and non-governmental sectors who gave invaluable contributions to discussions, which was moderated by Natasha Hall, with speakers including: Husni al-Barazi, ARCS Chairperson; Jack Sproson; and Ibrahim Olabi.
In the coming weeks and months, G37 will be publishing further legal material on this issue, including letters and interviews with eminent experts. We will also be working closely with relevant governmental and non-governmental actors, domestically, regionally, and internationally.
While G37 leads independently on the legal question, supported by NGOs that have no cross-border operations in Syria, we will be closely coordinating with humanitarian NGOs, coordinated by ARCS, as they lead through their campaign “Needs not Vetoes” on the humanitarian and policy implications of these legal findings. Their work can be accessed here: https://arcsyria.org/needs-not-vetoes
G37 is a highly specialised Barristers' Chambers that brings together Barristers and international attorneys with expertise in international law: https://www.guernica37.com/.