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[casi] Please help the CND legal challenge to stop Britain attacking Iraqwithout UN permission



Dear Friend:

I would be very grateful indeed if you would spend a couple of minutes
reading this. I hope you will want to make a donation to help CND's
legal challenge to prevent the government from going to war without
explicit UN permission. This is an opportunity to help do something
really practical to prevent this war. Please forward this message to as
many people as possible. (If you would like to read a brief overview of the
current crisis, you may wish to look at my article 'The Choice on Iraq'
which you can see on my website http://www.ericherring.com/).

Thank you very much indeed.

Best wishes

Eric Herring

URGENT LETTER FROM MARK THOMAS

Dear Friend

Along with George Bush, Tony Blair has said that he is prepared to go
to war against Iraq without a new vote of the UN Security Council. Bush
already has permission to go to war from the US Congress and Blair says
he is not going to ask Parliament for a vote for or against war. So, as
things stand, Bush and Blair can decide all by themselves to plunge us
into war.

As you may have heard, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has
launched a legal challenge to force Blair to get permission from the
UN. If CND wins this legal action, it will be much, much harder for
them to start a war. The lawyer advising CND thinks that, if the case
gets to court, CND is likely to win. The challenge has had some press
coverage up to now, and we can expect a lot more as it progresses.

This is the first time citizens have ever taken a government to court
to prevent an illegal war before it even starts.

CND desperately needs funds to keep the legal challenge going (13,000
right now to pay for costs already incurred, and a further 100,000 to
keep going). Anything you can donate helps, even if it is only 1.
Donations can be put directly into the 'CND Public Information' account
at the Co-operative Bank, sort code 089033, account number 50425088:
you can do this by instructing your bank. OR you can send a cheque
payable to 'CND Public Information' to the following address: CND, 162
Holloway Road, London N7 8DQ.

Of course, in order to decide whether or how much to donate, you may
feel you want more information. And if you do donate, you will want to
know how to follow developments. So I have provided more information
below.

Thank you

Mark Thomas


THE CND LEGAL CHALLENGE

CND is prepared to take the government to court if Tony Blair continues
to threaten to use military force against Iraq without returning to the
UN. CND has served letters on Tony Blair, Geoff Hoon as Defence
Secretary and Jack Straw as Foreign Secretary asking them to clarify
the government's position on UN Security Council Resolution 1441 passed
on 8 November 2002. This Resolution demanded the return of UN weapons
inspectors to Iraq. Iraq has agreed to comply with the Resolution and
weapons inspectors are back in Iraq. CND has demanded that the
Government indicate whether or not it is their view that Resolution
1441 gives them permission to go to war with Iraq should they decide
that they are not satisfied with Iraqi compliance with the weapons
inspectors. If they say that this is their view, or if they  do not
reply by Tuesday 26 November, CND will take them to court to argue that
war against Iraq will require another UN Security Council Resolution
which explicitly authorises war.

THE LEGAL OPINION

CND commissioned a legal opinion from Matrix Chambers QC Rabinder Singh on
the legality of using Resolution 1441 as an automatic trigger mechanism to
go to war. His opinion is that, although the government has continually
stated that they will be bound by international law, they cannot legally go to
war against Iraq using Resolution 1441. Firstly, there is no clear instruction
that if Iraq fails to comply with the weapons inspectors then member states
can take military action and wage war. Secondly, the phrases used in
previous UN resolutions to indicate the use of force (i.e. 'all necessary
means' and 'the severest consequences') are absent from 1441, because
the UK and the US fought and lost the battle to have them included. To
go to war under the pretext of resolution 1441 is illegal.

For the full legal opinion go to the CND website http://www.cnduk.org/
and follow the relevant link. You can also keep in touch with the legal
challenge through it.

WHAT NEXT?

On 26 November if the government does not indicate that it will comply
with the law, CND will serve court papers and in a letter to the court insist
that as the matter is of such urgent public interest the case be decided on
before 8th December, the deadline for Iraq to present to the UN its
declaration of chemical, biological and nuclear weapon programmes and
even potentially related materials.

The next stage is for the judge to decide if s/he will hear the case or
not. This will more than likely go to a permission hearing. Here the
arguments for the case are laid out and the judge decides if the case
can go to a full hearing. It is the opinion of Rabinder Singh that if
the case gets to a full hearing CND stand a better chance than the
government of winning.

THE POSSIBLE RESULTS

We don't believe that a war on Iraq would be morally justified even if
the UN did give its permission. If the government decide to follow the
law and return to the Security Council we will have forced the US to do
likewise (it is also likely that a similar court case is going to take
place in the US). This will strengthen the hands of those on the
Security Council who do not want war. Also it forces the UK government
to publicly address the issues of legality of war on Iraq.  It would be
too optimistic to believe that this action alone can prevent the war
that the US obviously wants but it is vital that we use every non
violent tool we have to oppose and stop the war. And a war delayed can
be a war avoided.

THE FUNDING NEEDED FOR THE CAMPAIGN

16,000 has been spent so far. Between them, CND and Mark Thomas have
each managed to raise 3,000. So 13,000 is needed now just to cover
costs so far. If CND goes to court and wins, it will almost certainly
need funds for further legal action against the government. If CND goes
to court and the government wins, CND could be faced with a bill of
about 100,000. As you can see, donations are needed very badly. At the
end of this process, if there is any money left over, it will be split
evenly between CND and PeaceRights (an independent organisation of
lawyers, activists and academics who are working to promote
international humanitarian law through education and research - for
further information, see their website http://www.peacerights.com/).
For further information and comment please contact: Ian Martin, CND
press officer 0207 700 2350; mobile: 07968 420859; ian@cnduk.org.

----------------------
Dr. Eric Herring
Department of Politics
University of Bristol
10 Priory Road
Bristol BS8 1TU
England, UK
Office tel. +44-(0)117-928-8582
Mobile tel. +44-(0)7771-966608
Fax +44-(0)117-973-2133
eric.herring@bristol.ac.uk
http://www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/Politics
http://www.ericherring.com


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