The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
> ... I do not see how any action of any of the > permanent members of the Security Council can be said to be 'illegal'. > >The highest authority in judging the legality or otherwise of military >actions, especially in relation to UN Security Council resolutions, is the >UN Security Council itself. And all five permanent members have a veto. So >they can veto any resolution that their actions are 'illegal'. The basic document here is the UN Charter. The Charter is explicit about the circumstances when the threat or use of force is permitted (article 51 of chapter VII): basically self-defence in response to an 'armed attack' across a national border on a member state of the United Nations, or with the explicit authorisation of the Security Council. Current US-British military action against Iraq clearly fails to meet either of these criteria and is therefore illegal. There's no ambiguity here. (Note, in particular, that the Council doesn't have to adopt a resolution condemning something as illegal in order to make it so.) [More information about this - and much else besides - can be found in voices briefing on the February 16th airstrike, 'Bombs before polling day'] As far as I can tell Peter is conflating two things in his e-mail: the law and how it's implemented in practice. The former is usually codified in written form and, at least in simple cases, is easily checked against a given set of factual cirumstances. Thus shop-lifting and murder are both illegal under British law. How the law is implemented is a separate matter, involving - in the case of domestic law - judges, courts, police etc ... According to what the standards of evidence are, the levels of judicial corruption, and a whole range of other factors, the results can be a far cry from what the law prescribes. Thus eg. murder is illegal in many countries where the state routinely murders it's citizens. If the Crown Prosecution Service abused it's position to preventing murder charges from being brought against members of the CPS, it wouldn't make murder legal (though it would bring the legal system into disrepute). Likewise, simply because the US openly flouts international law, doesn't make its actions legal (though it may bring the UN into disrepute). Best wishes, Gabriel -----Original Message----- From: Peter Brooke <email@example.com> To: casi + <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: 21 August 2001 11:34 Subject: Further re: U.S. bombing of Iraq is illegal >On the subject of whether or not the bombing is 'illegal' - there is of >course some propaganda use in saying that such and such an action is >illegal, or that it does not conform to the spirit or letter of a Security >Council Resolution, but actually I do not see how any action of any of the >permanent members of the Security Council can be said to be 'illegal'. > >The highest authority in judging the legality or otherwise of military >actions, especially in relation to UN Security Council resolutions, is the >UN Security Council itself. And all five permanent members have a veto. So >they can veto any resolution that their actions are 'illegal'. > >For this reason I believe the whole notion of 'international law', as >presently understood, is built on sand and would welcome a concerted refusal >on the part of the peoples of the world to refuse the authority of the >Security Council. Rather than advocating the 'lifting of sanctions' I would >prefer supporting the efforts of the Iraqi government to persuade its >interlocutors to break the 'law'. I would like to see the argument developed >that only the International Court of Justice at the Hague (not the >specialised War Crimes Tribunals set up under the non-authority of the >Security Council) has credibility as the centre of a respectable system of >international justice. And that the highest authority in the UN should be >not the Security Council but the General Assembly. > >This would, I imagine, mean withdrawing from the existing UN structure and >setting up a new structure. The USA would of course refuse to have anything >to do with it. A big project, probably hopelessly Utopian, but I think, and >have thought for a long time, that the case is worth putting. It would be a >project for what used to be called the 'non-aligned' countries of the world. > >Does anyone know of anyone else who is thinking along similar lines? Any >organisation that is arguing against recognising ANY decision of the UN >Security Council (even ones we might happen to like) as 'legal' in any >honourable sense of the term? > >Peter Brooke > >---------- >From: "Colin Rowat" <email@example.com> >To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <iac-discussion@eGroups.com> >Subject: RE: [iac-disc.] op/ed: U.S. bombing of Iraq is illegal >Date: Tue, Aug 21, 2001, 2:40 am > > >Thanks Robert (and Felicity) for the "U.S. bombing of Iraq is illegal" >article. > >> The United States and Britain >> claim that a 1991 U.N. Security Council resolution authorizes them to bomb >> at will. >> >> The only problem is that the resolution cited clearly does not set up the >> zones or authorize any nation to unilaterally carry out such actions. In >> short: The U.S. and U.K. are perpetrating acts of aggression that violate >> international law. > >The resolution referred to here is 688; a link to this and some commentary >on it can be found on CASI's website at www.casi.org.uk/info/scriraq.html. > >Not only does 688 not authorise nations to take unilateral action, but it >does not allow enforcement action of any kind. Security Council resolutions >that wish to allow enforcement action must make reference to Chapter VII of >the UN Charter. 688 does not, intentionally: China and (I believe) Russia >were worried about the precedent that would be created if the Security >Council claimed the right to use force against sovereign states for domestic >matters. > >The US and UK governments do not, though, claim that 688 gives them the >right to "bomb at will". Their formula is somewhat more subtle: the no fly >zones are actions taken "in support of" 688. Their actions are as well: >their rules of engagement only allow force to be used in response to >threats. Their rules do, however, allow the response to come at any time >after the original threat, and to be directed against any element of the >system that threatened them. Effectively, of course, this allows them to >attack Iraq's air defenses "at will". > >Yet this also presents a real problem from the point of view of their >ability to "support" 688, which called for the Iraqi government to cease its >repression of Iraq's civilian population: I have yet to read of a human >rights violation in Iraq that has involved the perpetrators targetting >passing US or British planes with radar. Thus, the zones seem largely >incapable of supporting 688, even in spirit. > >> I doubt that the Shi'a ... are >> reassured to know the United States is now their protector. Nor are the >> Kurds, who have been used as a political ping-pong ball by Washington for >> decades, likely to be bolstered by the news. > >It is clear that the northern zone is not an iron-clad guarantee for Iraqi >Kurds. The zone only coincides crudely with Iraqi Kurdistan, omitting its >largest city, and including Mosul (in Iraq proper). Additionally, >Washington's limited committment is very clear. US Ambassador for >transition in Iraq Frank Riccardione's remark last year was particularly >bald: Washington does not have a Kurdish policy; instead, it has policies >towards all of those countries fortunate enough to have Kurdish populations. >Further, life in Iraqi Kurdistan, even with this limited guarantee, seems >quite unstable, if refugees and asylum seekers are any gauge. Finally, the >Turkish "special packages" - bombing raids against villages in Iraqi >Kurdistan suspected of containing PKK Kurds - are not prevented by the zone; >indeed, the US and UK cannot fly when Turkey is raiding. > >For all these warts, Iraqi Kurds do seem to regard the northern no fly zone >as a temporary symbol of some support for them. Given that they are one of >the communities at greatest risk in this situation, and particularly now, I >would not call for its outright abolition, but for its replacement by a >mechanism better able to protect Kurdish rights, and with greater >international legal support. > >Best, > >Colin Rowat > >work | Department of Economics | The University of Birmingham | Birmingham, >B15 2TT, UK | email@example.com > >personal | 07768 056 984 (UK mobile) | (917) 517 5840 (USA mobile) | (707) >221 3672 (US fax) | firstname.lastname@example.org > > >_________________________________________________________ >Do You Yahoo!? >Get your free @yahoo.com address at http://mail.yahoo.com > >-- >----------------------------------------------------------------------- >This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq >For removal from list, email email@example.com >Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: >http://www.casi.org.uk > >-- >----------------------------------------------------------------------- >This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq >For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org >Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: >http://www.casi.org.uk > -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk