How Obama and Putin could cut through the Syrian tragedy

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 21 September, 2015 | 10:01 am

Tony Kevin

Two people – Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin – now have the power decisively to cut through the tragic Gordian​ knot that the Syrian crisis has become, generating millions of displaced refugees with many more in prospect as civil war continues. They could only do this, if they were genuinely to agree to work cooperatively, as they briefly attempted some years ago, before a new Cold War descended on Europe. Aided by their competent Foreign Ministers, John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov, Obama and Putin could together end the Syrian agony.

My proposal here may at first sight seem …

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Should Australia bomb IS in Syria?

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 14 September, 2015 | 10:58 am

The Australian government should consider very carefully whether it participates in the air campaign against Islamic State in Syria, writes Ramesh Thakur.

The Australian government is considering a United States request, possibly engineered from Canberra itself, for Australian participation in the air campaign against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria. Due diligence requires that the evaluation be done with sympathy tempered by caution and humility.

Decades of interventions by the West into Middle Eastern affairs have proven disastrous. Is it time to try something different?

The legal justification for bombing raids without the consent of Syria’s government is dubious. The …

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Bombing in Syria: Is R2P a justification of last resort?

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 14 September, 2015 | 10:12 am

The government should hold back over Syria lest it creates a precedent with longer term risks to the national interest. So far it has not explained the legal basis on which it would proceed to bomb Syrian positions. It is has however been gratuitously but deceptively served by two former Labor Foreign Ministers, Evans and Carr, who in effect have stated that if breaches of sovereignty cannot be excused any other way there is always the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine to fall back on.

As the US asserts that the War Against Terror is global, its armed forces may …

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Media Release: Government makes the future worse for Syrians

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 7 September, 2015 | 2:38 pm

Monday 7th September 2015


Australians for War Powers Reform, which has campaigned for an inquiry into how Australia went to war in Iraq, renews its call on the Government to explain how sending the RAAF to join bombing raids in Syria can do other than add to the exodus of Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans and others from their countries. The group continues to question the legality of such military action by Australia, and asserts that before it takes place several steps are mandatory:

  • The receipt by the Government of independent legal advice, for

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Media Release: Open letter to Prime Minister Abbott about military action in Syria

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 4 September, 2015 | 7:16 pm

Dear Prime Minister Abbott,

As your government prepares to extend RAAF bombing raids beyond Iraq into Syria, we ask you to reconsider this move before it is too late.

We call on you to hold a debate in Parliament on the impact of bombing on Australia’s national interests and on Syrian civilians, followed by a vote on any proposed military action.

Further, we urge you to seek and publish genuinely independent legal opinion as to the legality of this bombing under international law. This should make clear what Australia’s likelihood of success before the International Court of Justice would be …

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Media Release: Government challenged to provide legal basis for Syrian bombing

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 26 August, 2015 | 4:30 pm


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) urges reform of the process by which Australian troops can be sent to war, calls on the Australian Government to state on what grounds any further Australian role in bombing Syria would be legal.

The group states that the following should be mandatory before any such Australian military action:

  • The receipt by the Government of independent legal advice, for example by the Solicitor General, stating that any proposed military actions are legal under international law;
  • The open publication of such advice; and
  • Confirmation that the Government could, if

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Bombing Syria

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 26 August, 2015 | 1:37 pm

This is not the first time our leaders have claimed to be invited by another government (Vietnam) or an ally (US) to get into a war or to widen one. As we now know, before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Australian prime ministers surreptitiously offered and even urged the US to accept our troops before being asked. It was a captain’s pick, every time.

If these wars were legal, why did our prime ministers not explain that in Parliament from the outset, producing a Security Council resolution or a direct request from a government? The same now applies to …

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We will be at ‘war’ in Syria if the Government assents to the US ‘request’ to bomb in that country. What of the legal and other justifications?

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 26 August, 2015 | 10:54 am

By what process will the authority to bomb in Syria be granted? Will the Solicitor-General be asked to provide legal advice? Will the Governor-General in Council be required to sign off on the decision? Will Parliament have been informed beforehand? That is, will something from the vagaries of previous decision-making over the commitment of our armed forces in conflict abroad have been learned meanwhile?

As to substance, the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has cited a doctrine of collective self-defence as being the basis for Australian bombing of Syria. Under international law collective self-defence may be justified pursuant to mutual treaty …

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Media Release: Legality of Bombing Syria Does Matter, Mr Abbott.

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 23 August, 2015 | 11:29 pm


August 24, 2015


The Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry (CIWI) has expressed grave concerns at PM Abbott’s apparent indifference as to whether bombing Syria is legal or not.

The Prime Minister has been quoted as saying, “While there is a little difference between the legalities of air strikes on either side of the border, there’s no difference in the morality.” However the difference between the legalities is both large and important. The Government claims to be operating in Iraq on the basis of an invitation from the Iraqi Government …

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Launch: “How Does Australia Go To War?”

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog, News | 17 July, 2015 | 10:45 am


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

As concern spreads in Australia about what our latest military intervention in Iraq is for and where it will end, Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) is targeting MPs and Senators with a call to change the way our troops are sent to war.

All Federal parliamentarians will receive a book of short essays, “How Does Australia Go To War?”, on the political, military, legal and ethical implications of Australia’s current practice. It points out that in Australia – and in only a few other democracies – the prime minister can decide to commit …

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