Speaking internationally, the attacks were absolutely not in alignment with either UN charters and/or protocols, or resting upon any relevant legal precedents.
Under Article 51 of the UN charter, of which the US is a signatory, only self defense is a permitted use of force against another sovereign nation. The one exception to that is if there’s complete unanimity among the permanent members of the security council, which never even got to vote on the matter. So there’s nothing in the UN framework that would have permitted or sanctioned the attack.
The UK PM had to justify the UK’s actions before Parliament so we know what they did to try and make sense o fit all. Needless to say, Theresa May’s efforts were really exceptionally lame in that regard.
Dapo Akande, Professor of Public International Law, Oxford University, gave this opinion for the Labour Party…
In the opinion I reach the following conclusions:
1. Contrary to the position of the government, neither the UN charter nor customary international law permits military action on the basis of the doctrine of humanitarian intervention. There is very little support by states for such an exception to the prohibition of the use of force. The UK is one of very few states that advocates for such a legal principle but the vast majority of states have explicitly rejected it.
Theresa May claimed that “customary international law” permits such bombings but there’s no such customary international law in the first place. As you might imagine, many smaller and weaker nations explicitly reject the idea that larger powers can come in and bomb them willy-nilly. If “the vast majority” of states reject this principle, it cannot be “customary.”
2. The legal position advanced by the government ignores the structure of the international law rules relating to the use of force, in particular, because a customary international law rule does not prevail over the rule in the United Nations charter prohibiting the use of force. To accept the position advocated by the government would be to undermine the supremacy of the UN charter.
The above is simple enough…UN law has already been agreed upon by all parties to be supreme. For the UK to suddenly be claiming there’s an heretofore unknown and superior law that they cannot actually cite, is beyond preposterous. “Your honor, I cannot be tried for murder because I am now citing the usual and customary practice of determining the precise length of someone’s lifespan for them. No, I don’t have any case law or precedents to go on, but I am invoking this principle nonetheless!”
3. Even if there was a doctrine of humanitarian intervention in international law, the strikes against Syria would not appear to meet the tests set out by the government. The action taken by the government was not directed at bringing “immediate and urgent relief” with regard to the specific evil it sought to prevent, and was taken before the inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were able to reach the affected area.
Here I would only ask what sort of “humanitarian intervention” is advanced by bombing what you claim are the factories and storage depots where dangerous chemical weapons are allegedly made and kept? This argument too just leaves one’s jaw flapping uselessly.
Of course, we all know that those sites had no such dangerous chemicals because of all the people touring the bombed out facilities the next day wearing only street clothes and not even dust masks.
So given that, we can be assured that the FUKUS coalition knew that too. Which then begs the question what sort of humanitarian intervention is it to destroy a few non-threatening buildings even before any investigation had or could have taken place?
All in all, just an illegal use of force that really puts the icing on Russia’s previous assertion that the FUKUS coalition are “not agreement capable.”