Issue date
18 Apr 2018

The TUC condemns the use of chemical weapons as alleged at Douma, Syria. However, we believe it is imperative that any response, diplomatic or military, by global powers including the UK must be evidence-based and conducted under due process of international law. We call for the government to publish its legal advice, and note the remarks of the UN Secretary General that “all member states must act consistently with the charter of the United Nations and with international law, including the norms against chemical weapons.”

It is unacceptable that military action pre-empted an investigation planned over the coming days by the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) to establish the facts. 

The TUC supports the call for a peaceful settlement to the conflict and democracy in Syria alongside a political solution to bring about a lasting peace throughout the rest of the region.

The TUC believes that in backing President Trump’s military strikes in Syria, the UK government failed to win the support of the British people and that prior to any military action being taken involving UK armed forces, except in the most urgent of circumstances, explicit approval should be obtained in advance from parliament rather than launched by ministerial decree. 

Before resorting to military intervention all other avenues must be exhausted, especially the UN’s processes and due consideration given to the real risk of making matters worse. Working people and children on all sides suffer from military action. The TUC strongly opposes further UK military action until such time as the government demonstrates it can meet the following challenging tests:

  • That the evidence for the use of chemical weapons and by whom is robust, and, where possible, endorsed by UN or other authoritative sources;
  • That all alternative routes have been exhausted before military action is taken;
  • That military action should only be taken where it satisfies international law;
  • That there is a clear and credible plan for what happens after any military intervention, and that this helps support the rights of working people and their families to live and work in peace;
  • That the form of any action taken should not escalate or exacerbate the conflict or otherwise harm the civilian population.