UN tries to forestall US aggression in Syria

Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, cut short a European trip and rushed home on Thursday to prepare for a weekend briefing by his team of chemical weapons inspectors on the ground in Syria. He implored President Obama to refrain from a threatened military strike and to allow the procedures enshrined in the United Nations Charter to take their course.
But Mr. Ban’s efforts to forestall armed intervention by the United States in the affairs of another country, without the permission of the United Nations Security Council, appeared to be having little effect, recalling the frustrations of Mr. Ban’s predecessor, Kofi Annan, 10 years ago in failing to dissuade the Bush administration from attacking Iraq.
Diplomats, former diplomats and legal experts said that if the Obama administration proceeded with an attack on Syria, the effects were likely to reverberate through the United Nations, reinforcing a sense of powerlessness in resolving disputes, in particular those in which one or more superpowers are among the antagonists.
Some said an American military action in Syria, regardless of the merits cited by administration officials, would degrade the credibility of the Security Council, the only internationally recognized institution empowered to authorize force.
Syria never signed the global treaty known as the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, which bans the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. So its policing unit — the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or O.P.C.W. — has no authority to deal with Syria as a state that is party to the international accord.

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