UN Security Council resolution 2249 – historic moment of international unity

As a party, the Liberal Democrats, and the Liberal Party before it, have always been very strong supporters of the United Nations. The 1951 Liberal Party manifesto (admittedly not one which met with unalloyed electoral acclaim) stated in a section entitled “World peace through law”:

We stand firmly, as we have always stood, behind Collective Security and the United Nations Organisation. We believe in the absolute necessity of maintaining the rule of law, and protecting British interests when necessary within the framework of international law.

It is with that history in mind that we can warmly welcome the passing of UN Security Council resolution 2249 proposed by France. You can read the full text here, but this is the main guts of the motion:

The Security Council…Calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular with the United Nations Charter, as well as international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, on the territory under the control of ISIL also known as Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq, to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL also known as Da’esh as well as ANF, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the United Nations Security Council, and as may further be agreed by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG ) and endorsed by the UN Security Council, pursuant to the Statement of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) of 14 November, and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria;

It is a remarkable achievement, and perhaps a mark of the wide devastation spread by ISIL, that such a motion was passed. Getting the Russians and Chinese on board for such resolutions is always a major accomplishment.
It is very important that the UK acts carefully within the terms of this motion (and other related resolutions). We must not over-step the stated will of the UN and “take a punt” as we did in Iraq under Tony Blair.

Also, we must learn the lessons of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc etc. I quote from an article I wrote about the very illuminating LDV-sponsored foreign affairs debate at the Bournemouth conference:

The policy of “liberal intervention” has failed spectacularly in a whole list of places: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya etc. We really must realise that it is just utterly stupid – S-T-U-P-I-D – to go round the world bombing places and then expecting democracy to pop up in the craters. We must reconcile ourselves to helping through humanitarian actions.

– But that does not preclude a whole range of clearly legal anti-terror actions which we can take shoulder-to-shoulder with the international law-abiding community.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Eddie Sammon 21st Nov '15 - 3:40pm

    The plan for Iraq and Syria to be sorted out by the international big players, a bit like the Berlin Conference of 1884-5 which led to the scramble for Africa, is not what my instincts currently says is the best path, but the UN route is better than no route, so I shall be falling into line and supporting it and Cameron’s airstrikes, unless he comes up with something heartless or insane.

  • George Kendall 21st Nov '15 - 3:42pm

    I think this is very good news.

    There way forward will be incredibly difficult, but this is a very good first step.

  • Richard Underhill 21st Nov '15 - 5:06pm

    The BBC is saying that “all necessary measures” ‘does not mean war’. Oh really? which spin-doctor is the BBC quoting?
    President Hollande has said that France is already at war.

  • lloyd harris 21st Nov '15 - 9:38pm

    Sorry I don’t understand what measures are allowed and what are not. Does this mean bombing in Syria is legal or against international law as we don’t have permission from Assad?

    To be honest the whole of Africa and Arabia needs fixing for the mess the British and French made of it when they drew lines on maps and made up states that have no logical link to the people on the ground that live there.

  • Tomas Howard-Jones 22nd Nov '15 - 1:03am

    Isn’t this UN Security Council Resolution a bit meaningless while France, Britain the US and other NATO members all play “Let’s pretend a NATO member country isn’t directly arming Al-Qaeda affiliates and producing Sarin used by them” ?
    There’s also the other denial game in town, of course, enjoyed by some on this forum, “Let’s ignore the several Al Qaeda -affiliated groups dominating the Syrian rebels, and the fluidity of fighter allegiance, weapons, and trade between rebel groups and ISIS”.
    Jabhat Al-Nusra, the main Al-Qaeda affiliate which dominates most rebel forces outside ISIS, isn’t the only Al-Qaeda group amongst rebels, and almost all the rest of the fighting rebels are salafist groups, such as Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham
    Harakat Nouriddeen Al-Zinki etc etc. Yet many still persist in calling these the ‘Free Syrian Army’, or at least give the false impression that the FSA is as large as Al-Qaeda /other salafist fighting groups.

  • “Ringing the bells now – wringing their hands later”. Sir Robert Walpole.

  • Marguerita Morton 23rd Nov '15 - 12:39pm

    The government are increasing the defence budget by £12 billion because of the threat to our own people by so called ISIS/Da’esh terrorists. Why hasn’t more been spent on finding out why young people in Europe find their ideology so inviting? What are we doing to find the black internet sites which ISIS/Da’esh uses to recruit, indoctrinate and ultimately brainwash our youth in cities all over Europe? Why hasn’t there been cooperation between the security services in Europe? All these fundamental questions need to be answered before we rush off to start bombing Raquaa in Syria. This is a knee jerk reaction and will not solve the problem. In any case, the warring factions, as Tomas Howard Jones says, are diverse and have their own agenda which may not coincide with the West’s agenda.

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd Nov '15 - 5:02pm

    Carl Gardner makes an important point about bogus arguments. I had a rant about this yesterday and complained about Mary Dejevsky’s article in the Guardian because every paragraph besides the last one seemed to be based on bogus arguments.

    If people are worried about civilian deaths then that is fine, but when people start saying action isn’t legitimate unless dictators who don’t even give their own citizens a vote pass our motions then it starts to look desperate. The other big bogus argument is “there are enough countries bombing Syria and if we join in our planes might start crashing into theirs”. First of all allies don’t just send their planes racing around the sky without communicating with each other and secondly our planes are doing reconnaissance flights anyway, so clearly there is space for British planes.

  • Let me be crystal clear. I do not support any military action by the UK in Syria, because it is an utterly stupid policy that refuses to recognise that previous action by the UK and others in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya has not only not created peace and democracy, but has led to the formation of ISIL/Daesh. It beggars belief that the protagonists of further military UK involvement in Syria cannot see that all such action will achieve is more recruits for ILSIL/Daesh and a greater likelihood of terrorist atrocities in the UK.
    I am certain that peace and stability in Syria and the wider region will only be achieved at the negotiating table with all parties coming without preconditions to the table and staying there until agreement. This will be a very protracted process given the wide gulf that exists between the warring factions. It seems to me that Cameron is trying to shortcut this difficult and lengthy process by a bombing campaign mainly because he wants a quick solution and to be seen doing something. It won’t work and it will make matters worse. When the bombs start to go off in the UK – and they will if the UK gets sucked in to this regional conflict – then one of the main culprits for that will be Cameron and those who vote with him for military action.
    You can split hairs about UN authority, but the fact is that military intervention in Syria by the UK is morally wrong, militarily inept and will not deliver the end it seeks.

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