Rebels Holding Peacekeepers Demand UN lift Sanctions

Rebels Holding Peacekeepers Demand UN lift Sanctions

Last week, 45 Fijian peacekeepers deployed as part of a 1,200-member U.N. force monitoring a buffer zone between Syria and Israel were captured and are being held by Nusra Front rebels.   (Hat tip to Theodore Christakis here at the ESIL conference in Vienna for raising the issue yesterday in the ESIL / SHARES Peace and Security Interest Group Seminar.)

Rebels have made three demands for their release, according to a WSJ article published yesterday:

1. They want to be dropped from the list of al Qaeda-linked groups under U.N. sanctions;

2. They are demanding monetary compensation for the deaths of the insurgents who were killed in recent fighting along the Syrian-Israeli border; and

3. They want humanitarian aid for a rebel-controlled area near the Syrian capital Damascus that is surrounded by government troops.

The Security Council responded with a press release yesterday, read by Amb. Samantha Power, in which it “condemned in the strongest terms the detention of 45 Fijian peacekeepers by a Security Council-designated terrorist organization.  They reiterated their call for the peacekeepers’ immediate and unconditional release.  There can never be any justification for attacks on or the detention of UN peacekeepers.”

The demand for delisting is particularly striking. On the one hand, it suggests that targeted sanctions are relevant to this group, whether for practical or symbolic reasons.  On the other hand, there continues to be debate about the Security Council’s legal basis for placing demands on or regulating non-state actors.

In the Kosovo Advisory Opinion, the ICJ indicated the Security Council could create obligations for non-state actors, but the conferral of rights, obligations, and status on subjects of law without their participation in the international law making process continues to be controversial as the ILA’s 2014 report on Non-State Actors explores.  Both the Council’s imposition of sanctions and its demand for the peacekeepers’ immediate and unconditional release in the press statement, (and here it is relevant that press statements are considered decisions of the Council) raise interesting and important issues in international law.

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Jordan
Jordan

Correct re: issues regarding the reach of S.C. authority over NSAs (perhaps in view of its authority under arts. 39, 41 and 42 [although 48 would not apply]}. Yet, it is important to remember the international law has NEVER been merely state-to-state and there have been many actors with formal participatory roles (such as nations, peoples, tribes, belligerents). see http://ssrn.com/abstract=1701992
And yes, why would this group want to be dropped from an S.C. list but be stupid enough to take hostages and make demands?

Thomas Welch

Great point Jordan. I also wonder why there has been nothing about this in the “leading” US press…

Edward Brynes
Edward Brynes

I think they are trying to see what they can get away with. That’s not necessarily a stupid motive.

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[…] de la imposición de deberes internacionales a actores no estatales), como también expresó Kristen Boom en un post en el famoso Blog Opinio Juris (mencionando el carácter controvertido, para…, algo que no comparto debido a que en ocasiones no es exigible, cuando lo permitan las fuentes del […]

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[…] de la imposición de deberes internacionales a actores no estatales), como también expresó Kristen Boom en un post en el famoso Blog Opinio Juris (mencionando el carácter controvertido, para…, algo que no comparto debido a que en ocasiones no es exigible, cuando lo permitan las fuentes del […]