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]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] Goldsmith will be summoned ...

Peers demand that Goldsmith explain the legal basis for war

By Ben Russell
13 March 2003

The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, will be summoned before the House of
Lords next week to justify the legal basis for a war on Iraq.

Liberal Democrat peers called the half-day debate after ministers
repeatedly refused to explain how a war could be justified without
breaching Britain's obligations in international law. But ministers also
face the prospect of criticism from the ranks of distinguished former law
lords and experts on international law who line the benches of the House of

Yesterday Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, wrote to Tony Blair
asking how a war could be legal if it was not backed by a fresh United
Nations Security Council resolution. Ministers have been under pressure
over the legality of military action after Kofi Annan, the UN secretary
general, warned this week that unilateral action by Britain and the United
States "would not be in conformity with the UN charter".

Mr Kennedy wrote: "It is still not clear whether the Attorney General has
advised the Government that unilateral military action in Iraq, without a
second UN resolution authorising force, would be legal. When I asked you
this question earlier today, you chose not to answer it."

Lord Goldsmith joined senior cabinet ministers in Downing Street for a
meeting of the "embryonic" war cabinet.

Lord Goodhart, the Liberal Democrat peer, who will open Monday's debate,
said: "This is obviously the critical issue of the moment. It is something
that we want to bring up. There is a large amount of expertise in the House
of Lords. We don't know what the Attorney General has advised." Yesterday
senior lawyers warned that military action would be illegal without a
second UN resolution. Lord Archer of Sandwell, a former Labour solicitor
general, said a war without a second resolution would be "flagrantly

Rabinder Singh QC, a human rights specialist, told BBC Radio 4: "The most
recent resolution 1441 clearly does not authorise war against Iraq. What
that did is to say that Iraq had to comply with certain steps, Blix then
had to report back to the Security Council and then the Security Council
would decide what to do next."

"The Attorney General has been advising the Government on this. What is
noticeable is that there seems to be a one-sided legal debate. At present
nobody on the Government side seems to be engaging in a legal debate with


Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]