International

U.N. Chief: Use Of Force Is Legal Only In Self-Defense Or With U.N. OK

Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon arrives for a news conference about the situation in Syria at the United Nations on Tuesday, in New York City. i i

Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon arrives for a news conference about the situation in Syria at the United Nations on Tuesday, in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon arrives for a news conference about the situation in Syria at the United Nations on Tuesday, in New York City.

Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon arrives for a news conference about the situation in Syria at the United Nations on Tuesday, in New York City.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The United Nations' Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says if his inspectors find that chemical weapons were used in Syria, it would represent a "serious violation of international law and an outrageous war crime."

"Our common humanity compels us to ensure that chemical weapons do not become a tool of war or terror in the 21st century," Ban said before departing for a G-20 meeting in Russia. "Any perpetrators must be brought to justice. There should be no impunity."

Of course, the odds of a U.N. resolution that approves a military strike against Syria are slim to none, because Russia and China, who have veto power on the Security Council, have repeatedly said they will not support such action.

Ban also made it clear that there only two types of attacks against Syria that would legal under the U.N. charter: self defense and one authorized by a U.N. resolution.

"That is the firm principle of the United Nations," Ban said, clearly implying that a unilateral attack by the United States against Syria would be illegal.

Ban was asked directly if he thought the kind of attack Obama wants Congress to approve would be illegal.

He said:

"I have taken note of President Obama's statement. And I appreciate his efforts to have his future course of action based on the broad opinions of American people, particularly the Congress, and I hope this process will have a good result."

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