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[casi] Latest Iraq resolution (SCR 1441) and no-fly zones

Dear list members,

Some US politicians seem to be presenting the latest Security Council
resolution on Iraq (SCR 1441, see
for a complete list of Iraq SCRs) as calling on the Iraqi government not to
fire on US and British warplanes over Iraq.  Glenn Kessler's recent article
in the Washington Post attributed this view to "senior administration
officials" and Richard Perle, speaking on the BBC's Radio 4 this morning,
made the claim directly.

The clause to which they are referring is OP 8, which reads:

Decides further that Iraq shall not take or threaten hostile acts directed
against any representative or personnel of the United Nations or the IAEA or
of any Member State taking action to uphold any Council resolution;

In the context of the resolution's contents, its positioning immediately
after a paragraph on the rights of inspectors, and the negotiations more
generally, it seems fairly clear that this was intended to refer to the
safety of inspectors, their aircraft and other property.  However, if the US
and British warplanes systematically destroying Iraq's air defences in the
'no fly zones' are upholding Council resolutions, then this would override
Iraq's Article 51 right to self-defence (see

Thus, the interpretation of 1441 preventing Iraqi firing on US/UK warplanes
depends on the claim that they are upholding Council resolutions.  As we've
discussed before, the usual resolution cited in this context is SCR 688.
688 is not a Chapter VII resolution (and therefore cannot, under the UN
Charter, be interpreted as mandating enforcement action).  Further, it makes
no mention of Iraqi aircraft, or no fly zones: it merely calls for the Iraqi
government to cease the repressive action that it was taking to suppress the
Iraqi intifada.  The zones' boundaries have been defined and extended by US
presidents rather than by the Security Council.  While they are felt, in the
north, to have added a level of protection to Iraqi Kurds, the pilots' rules
of engagement are not designed to allow protection of human rights on the
ground: they may attack if threatened.  Thus, State Department reports over
the 1990s have made clear that the Iraqi government was able to prosecute
its efforts against rebels in the south without interference from US and UK


Colin Rowat

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