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Re: [casi] UNSC resolutions

Hallo List

I too would be interested in seeing further info on this...

on 18/3/03 12:29 am, peter kiernan at wrote:

> Does any-one know of any legal opinion or analysis of the pretty misleading
> claims made that a war against Iraq, even without authorisation from a
> further UNSC resolution, is legal on the grounds that it is enforcing the
> term of ceasefire as laid out in UNSC resolution 687 of April 1991?

Today Lord Goldsmith is meant to be publishing (a portion of) the legal
advice he has given to the UK government. He has indicated that it gives
what government ministers call "a legal basis" for the attack on Iraq. I
suspect it will revolve around exactly this issue Peter Kiernan refers to,
the "revival" of the authorisation to use force in SCR 678, by means of an
alleged violation of the ceasefire resolution, 687.

The government has been using this manoeuvre for some time. In November 1998
I wrote to the Foreign Office enquiring what exactly was the "clear legal
basis" that the government claimed to have for the (impending) Desert Fox
assault. After four months I eventually received an answer; the operative
part read as follows:--

"There was a clear legal basis in existing Security Council Resolutions for
the action we took last December. Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1154
made clear that any violation by Iraq of its obligations to allow UNSCOM and
IAEA unrestricted access would have the severest consequences. Following
Iraq's decision of 31 October 1998 to cease cooperation with UNSCOM, the
Council, in SCR 1205, established that that decision was a flagrant
violation of SCR 687 which laid down the conditions for the 1991 ceasefire.
The Council also recalled that the effective operation of UNSCOM and the
IAEA was essential for the implementation of the ceasefire resolution. By
SCR 1205, therefore, the Security Council implicitly revived the
authorisation to use force which it had given in SCR 678."

[Letter from the Middle East Dept, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 15 March

Anyway, in answer to Peter's basic question, the most extended discussion of
this I have seen was by contributors to the CASI discussion list. On January
3 Milan Rai published ARROW briefing 25, "MATERIAL BREACH -- The Mysterious
Phrase That Could Trigger War on Iraq -- WAR PLAN IRAQ Update Number 5" on
the web at

Milan Rai referred to an earlier and even more detailed discussion by Glen
Rangwala, which was sent to the list on 22 August 2002 and can be found in
the archive at

Perhaps we could look back at those items, and then see if Goldsmith's
publicised opinion breaks new ground? Also, if Milan and Glen have anything
to add to their earlier statements, or can point us to other supporting
opinions, that might be helpful (though perhaps not an urgent necessity
right now...)

Andrew Goreing

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