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Syrian crisis and chemical weapons

International law of war expert discusses Syrian crisis and chemical weapons

International law of war expert Professor Tim McCormack will discuss the use of chemical weapons in Syria in a public talk at the University of Canterbury this week.

The New Zealand Law Foundation’s 2018 Distinguished Visiting Fellow, international humanitarian law expert Professor McCormack will be giving a public lecture – Chemical Weapons and Other Atrocities: Contrasting Responses to the Syrian Crisis – on Thursday, 2 August, hosted by the UC Law School.

Chemical Weapons and Other Atrocities

“As the Syrian catastrophe lurches into its eighth year, the international community watches recurrent egregious atrocities unfold before our collective eyes,” Professor McCormack says.

“Apart from lethal force deployed against ISIS targets in Syria, the international community has been precluded from undertaking any substantive action against the Assad Regime – except in response to allegations of the use of chemical weapons.”

Professor McCormack will discuss the questions: What is it about chemical weapons that has evoked such outrage and facilitated US-Russian co-operation against Assad? Is it a particularly visceral reaction to the use of chemicals to kill or the manner in which people die? Is it a long-standing taboo against the use of chemicals as weapons of war? Or is there some more cynical explanation that has nothing to do with humanitarian concerns?

About the speaker

Professor Tim McCormack has held a number of significant appointments including law of war expert adviser to the defence team for David Hicks before the US Military Commission in Guantanamo Bay; and amicus curiae (friend of the court, offering expertise) on international law issues to the judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic.

Professor McCormack is Dean of the University of Tasmania Law School and a Professorial Fellow at the Melbourne Law School. He is also the special adviser on international humanitarian law to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague and a director of World Vision Australia.

He has held a number of significant appointments including as: Fulbright Senior Fellow to take up the positions of James Barr Ames Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School (January 2016) and as Charles H Stockton Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at the US Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island (2015-16); International Observer (with Lord David Trimble) of Phase II of the Government of Israel's Turkel Commission of Enquiry into Israel's Mechanisms for Investigating Alleged Violations of the Law of Armed Conflict, Jerusalem (2011-2013); Foundation Australian Red Cross Professor of International Humanitarian Law at Melbourne Law School (1996-2010); Law of War Expert Adviser to the Defence Team for David Hicks, US Military Commissions, Guantanamo Bay (2004-2007); and Amicus Curiae on International Law issues for the Trial of Slobodan Milosevic, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, The Hague (2002-2006).

Public lecture: Chemical Weapons and Other Atrocities: Contrasting Responses to the Syrian Crisis, by Professor Tim McCormack, Dean of University of Tasmania Law School, 6pmon Thursday 2 August at UC Law School, Meremere Building, University Drive, University of Canterbury Ilam Campus, Christchurch. Register to attend free.


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