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Examination of the ‘Assad Must Go’ Doctrine

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Evaluation of Regime Legitimacy and De-Legitimisation from an International Law Perspective

image of International Community Law Review

The internal conflict in Syria and the legal imperatives of the ‘Assad must go’ doctrine have brought to the fore the issue of government legitimacy. This article examines the ‘de-legitimisation/legitimisation process’, meaning the denial of the legitimacy of a government from the perspective of the international community, in favor of the attribution of legitimacy to another entity. The main argument is that government legitimacy is determined on the basis of a combination of objective and legal criteria at the domestic and international level. When the objective criteria are contested by opposition forces to a significant extent, the international community needs to answer the question: who must be recognised as the legitimate government? Having set out the criteria for such a decision, I then examine the de-legitimisation of the Syrian government and the recognition of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people by regional organisations and by Member States of the UN.

Affiliations: 1: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki


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