Wednesday, February 26, 2003

43 Law experts warn: 'Coalition of the Killing' are war criminals, crimes against humanity
"International law recognises two bases for the use of force. The first, enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, allows force to be used in self-defence. The attack must be actual or imminent. The second basis is when the UN Security Council authorises the use of force as a collective response to the use or threat of force. However, the Security Council is bound by the terms of the UN Charter and can authorise the use of force only if there is evidence that there is an actual threat to the peace (in this case, by Iraq) and that this threat cannot be averted by any means short of force (such as negotiation and further weapons inspections).

"Members of the "coalition of the willing", including Australia, have not yet presented any persuasive arguments that an invasion of Iraq can be justified at international law... The weak and ambiguous evidence presented to the international community by the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, to justify a pre-emptive strike underlines the practical danger of a doctrine of pre-emption. A principle of pre-emption would allow particular national agendas to completely destroy the system of collective security contained in Chapter Seven of the UN Charter and return us to the pre-1945 era, where might equalled right. Ironically, the same principle would justify Iraq now launching pre-emptive attacks on members of the coalition because it could validly argue that it feared attack."

Bush, Blair, Howard, Hill and Downer say repeatedly that they already have authorisation for an attack from Resolution 1441 but they have nothing of the sort. Nor is their draft 'second resolution' anything like authorisation for war against Iraq. Moreover, their diplomacy is so bad that they have only succeeded in demonstrating to the whole world that UN authorisation for war is precisely what they do not have. And if their 'second resolution' fails to pass, the point will be driven home. A warning over a possible prosecution for war crimes and crimes against humanity should be prepared and personally delivered to all those leaders whose countries have signed onto the International Court of Justice, ie to Britain and Australia.

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