Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.VA) and Heidi Heitzkamp (D-N.D.) began circulating a Senate Draft Resolution which may provide a legitimate alternative to US military intervention in Syria. The resolution would give Syria 45 days to sign the International Chemical Weapons Convention, a global treaty that bans the use and production of chemical weapons.
According to Politico, who reportedly previewed the draft resolution on September 5th, 2013, it reads in part:
“The failure by the government of Bashar-Al-Assad to sign and comply the [chemical weapons] Convention clearly demonstrates a disregard for international norms on the use of chemical weapons. If the government of Syria does not sign the convention within 45 days of this resolution, all elements of national power will be considered by the United States.”
The Chemical Weapons Convention, first signed by the US in January of 1993, outlines the following obligations for all member nations under Article 1:
1. Each State Party to this Convention undertakes never under any circumstances:
(a) To develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons,
or transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons to anyone;
(b) To use chemical weapons;
(c) To engage in any military preparations to use chemical weapons;
(d) To assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity
prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.
2. Each State Party undertakes to destroy chemical weapons it owns or possesses, or that are located in any place under its jurisdiction or control, in accordance with the provisions of this Convention.
3. Each State Party undertakes to destroy all chemical weapons it abandoned on the territory of another State Party, in accordance with the provisions of this Convention.
4. Each State Party undertakes to destroy any chemical weapons production facilities it owns or possesses, or that are located in any place under its jurisdiction or control, in accordance with the provisions of this Convention.
5. Each State Party undertakes not to use riot control agents as a method of warfare
The proposal Draft Resolution would have the effect of delaying immediate military intervention in Syria and could be viewed as an incentive for the Assad regime to participate in the CWC, which provides for international monitoring and observation of the destruction of chemical weapons, through the International Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
During the 45 days, the resolution would require President Obama to use all diplomatic means at his disposal to address the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Should the Syrian government refuse to sign the treaty, the resolution allows for the US to “consider all elements of national power,” but ultimately does not bind the US to the use of military intervention at any point after the 45 day period. While the resolution is still in the draft stages, it may provide a reasonable alternative to military strikes on the country, allowing both the US and Syrian government to avoid escalating the conflict further.