POLITICS

Jimmy Carter: Syria Strike Illegal Without U.N. Support

08/30/2013 01:23 pm ET

President Jimmy Carter spoke out against military action in Syria without support from the United Nations, saying any strikes without the U.N.'s blessing would be illegal.

"A punitive military response without a U.N. Security Council mandate or broad support from NATO and the Arab League would be illegal under international law and unlikely to alter the course of the war," said a statement from the Carter Center Friday.

The former president urged "a peace conference" in the statement.

Carter wasn't the only former leader to speak out on the crisis in Syria. Former President George W. Bush said President Barack Obama "has to make a tough call" on the situation.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that unclassified U.S. intelligence shows clearly that President Bashar al-Assad's regime is responsible for a chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus, laying out some of the evidence U.S. intelligence has put together and shared with members of Congress and international allies.

Below, the full statement from the Carter Center on the Syria crisis:

The use of chemical weapons on August 21 near Damascus is a grave breach of international law that has rightfully outraged the world community. The United States and some of its European allies are calling for military strikes on Syria, but apparently without support from NATO or the Arab League. Predictably, Russia, Iran, and Syria are predicting dire consequences. At Syria's invitation, a U.N. investigation is already underway and will soon make its report. A punitive military response without a U.N. Security Council mandate or broad support from NATO and the Arab League would be illegal under international law and unlikely to alter the course of the war. It will only harden existing positions and postpone a sorely needed political process to put an end to the catastrophic violence. Instead, all should seek to leverage the consensus among the entire international community, including Russia and Iran, condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria and bringing under U.N. oversight the country's stockpile of such weapons.

"It is imperative to determine the facts of the attack and present them to the public. Those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must bear personal responsibility," said President Carter. "The chemical attack should be a catalyst for redoubling efforts to convene a peace conference, to end hostilities, and urgently to find a political solution."

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