MARCH 18, 2003
for Economic and Social Rights
Roger Normand, (718) 237-9145 ext. 12,
Philip Alston, (212) 998-6173
War in Iraq is "Unequivocally Illegal"
Human Rights Group Warns of Return to the Rule
of the Jungle in International Affairs
YORK - March 18 - War against Iraq is "unequivocally illegal under
the UN Charter and international law generally", according to
a new report. The report rejects efforts by the U.S., U.K, and
Australia to circumvent the U.N. Security Council and claim legal
justification from past resolutions.
to legitimize a war opposed by world public opinion, the U.S.
Secretary of State, the U.K. Attorney-General, and the Australian
Prime Minister have in the past 24 hours each issued major statements
insisting that international law justifies their decision to attack
issued by the New York-based Center for Economic and Social Right,
cites a range of authoritative legal sources to dismiss their
arguments. According to Professor Thomas Franck, a leading authority
on the use of force, the use of old resolutions to support military
action today "makes a complete mockery of the entire system" of
"It is the
height of hypocrisy for the U.S. and U.K. to base war on Resolution
1441 when they are fully aware that France, Russia and China approved
that resolution on explicit written condition that it could not
be used by individual states to justify military action," said
CESR Executive Director Roger Normand, who recently returned from
a fact-finding mission to Iraq. "This war violates every legal
principle governing the resort to force. It clearly has little
to do with disarmament, democracy, human rights, or even Saddam
Hussein, and everything to do with oil and power."
warns that an illegal war in Iraq would threaten the pillars of
collective security established after World War II to protect
civilians from a recurrence of that unprecedented carnage. "This
is an attack on the very institutions of international law and
the United Nations," said Philip Alston, Professor of Law and
Director of Human Rights and Global Justice and New York University.
"It opens the door for every country to take the law into its
own hands and launch preemptive military strikes without any universally
In 1946, the
Nuremberg Tribunal rejected German arguments of the necessity
for preemptive attacks against its neighbors and instead outlawed
preventive war as a crime against the peace. In the Tribunal's
judgment, "To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not
only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime
differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within
itself the accumulated evil of the whole."
up the Rules: The Illegality of Invading Iraq is available at
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