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Syria and Commitment to International Norms


FILE - A boy reads a torn paper inside a classroom in his destroyed school in Aleppo, Syria.

“Where order has completely broken down, we must act. But we will be stronger when we act together.”

When a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation’s internal affairs -- it breeds human suffering on an order of magnitude that affects us all."
U.S. President Barack Obama

After ratification of its charter by 29 countries in October of 1945, United Nations, horrified by the devastation of the Second World War, spent the next seven decades creating a system of international rules and norms aimed at preventing another such war from ever occurring again. By insisting on adherence to these rules, the global community sought to constrain bigger countries from imposing their will on smaller ones, and contributed to the emergence of democracy and individual liberty on every continent.

“Nowhere is our commitment to international order more tested than in Syria,” said President Barack Obama in his address to the UN General Assembly on September 22nd.

Four years ago, Syria’s Bashar al Assad reacted to peaceful protests by escalating repression and killing that, in turn, created the environment for the current strife, said President Obama. And out of the chaos in Syria and Iraq, emerged the violent extremist group ISIL, an apocalyptic cult that depends on perpetual war to survive.

“Realism dictates that compromise will be required to end the fighting and ultimately stamp out ISIL. But realism also requires a managed transition away from Assad and to a new leader, and an inclusive government that recognizes there must be an end to this chaos so that the Syrian people can begin to rebuild,” said President Obama:

"When a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation’s internal affairs -- it breeds human suffering on an order of magnitude that affects us all. Likewise, when a terrorist group beheads captives, slaughters the innocent and enslaves women, that’s not a single nation’s national security problem -- that is an assault on all humanity.”

“Around the globe, we will continue to be confronted with nations who reject these lessons of history, places where civil strife, border disputes, and sectarian wars bring about terrorist enclaves and humanitarian disasters,” said President Obama. “Where order has completely broken down, we must act. But we will be stronger when we act together.”

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