LAW member Doug Bracewell's letter requesting clarification of the legal basis for involvement in Iraq.

Dear Mr Goldring      RE Iraq

I had the pleasure of discussing the matter of your support with your assistant.    He assured me that it was your opinion that the US/UK campaign in Iraq was legal in nature.    He seemed to be poorly informed, as when I requested he advise me on the legal justification of the US/UK actions, and he refused or could not provide this information to me.

Below are a listing of some 23  of the various authorities who hold that it is illegal in nature.

In fact that phrase "all necessary means" was removed before passage of 1441 to prevent automatic warfare authority in case of Iraqi non-compliance.    As you know,  1441 specifically directs the security council to attend to breaches as per UN authority.

REQUEST:    In your view, as my representative to parliament,    What is the legal basis for Canadian involvement in this conflict?


Doug Bracewell

International Commission of Jurists.     In theory, international law could be upheld in several ways, said Louise Doswald-Beck, Secretary-General of the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali    said any U.S.-led invasion of Iraq without specific UN authorization would violate international law.

But Laetia Husson, a researcher at the International Law Center at the Sorbonne university in Paris, said international action to declare a breach of the U.N. Charter was unlikely.

Judge Richard Goldstone, who is a member of the International Bar Association's taskforce on international terrorism and sits on South Africa's Constitutional Court, said the looming war would be the most significant breach of international law since the Second World War.    (Justice Richard Goldstone of South Africa's Constitutional Court, who was the lead prosecutor in U.N. tribunals on the Rwanda genocide and killings in the former Yugoslavia)

 Judge Christopher Weeramantry, former vice-president of the International Court of Justice.    "An action of such overriding importance can destroy international law," said

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith and several Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence experts fear a military assault will break international law.    They will warn Mr Blair that he needs approval from the United Nations Security Council to drive out Saddam.    Lord Goldsmith, a Labour peer, will report by the end of September when the party meets in Blackpool. He is a high-flying QC and holds senior positions on several international law organisations.

Prof Ulf Bernitz, Dr Nicolas Espejo-Yaksic, Agnes Hurwitz, Prof Vaughan Lowe, Dr Ben Saul, Dr Katja Ziegler (University of Oxford), Prof James Crawford, Dr Susan Marks, Dr Roger O'Keefe (University of Cambridge), Prof Christine Chinkin, Dr Gerry Simpson, Deborah Cass (London School of Economics), Dr Matthew Craven (School of Oriental and African Studies), Prof Philippe Sands, Ralph Wilde (University College London), Prof Pierre-Marie Dupuy (University of Paris)     A lawful war is not necessarily a just, prudent or humanitarian war.    Neither security council resolution 1441 nor any prior resolution authorises the proposed use of force in the present circumstances.

David Bennett QC's predecessor as Commonwealth Solicitor General, Gavan Griffith QC - who represented the Labor and the Howard government in the High Court, gives Webdiary his written opinion that the Government's claim that the war is legal is "untenable", and that the legal advice he was forced to release is Alice in Wonderland nonsense.        I compare the opinion by Robinder Singh QC of Matrix Chambers, London, to be found at web site publicinterestlawyers, which is reasoned and compelling argument for the lack of support provided by the aged SCR 678.


National Lawyers Guild

Law Professors for the Rule of Law - Statement - SignatoriesFrederic Kirgis UN Specialist - Washinton & Lee Universities       “The argument is that we are stretching the bounds of self-defense,” says Frederic Kirgis, a law professor at Washington and Lee University and expert on U.N. law. “We are stretching it to a preemptive attack when there is no threat against our own territory or sovereignty.”         Kirgis points out that “all appropriate means,” for example, is a reference to the use of armed force — there’s no history of “serious consequences” referring to military action.

Michael Bothe, chairman of the German Society for International Law.    "There is a danger that the ban on the use of force, which I see as one of the most significant cultural achievements of the last century, will become history again."

George Williams, an international law expert at the University of New South Wales, and Devika Hovell, director of the International Law Project, said setting a new legal precedent was playing with fire.

International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms said there was "no precedent in international law for use of force as a preventive measure, when there has been no actual or imminent attack by the offending State".

Professor Grief, who is head of the law school at Bournemouth University, says there would be a further risk if US and British forces failed to make a proper distinction between military targets and civilians.

Colin Warbrick, Professor of Law at Durham University, agrees that the possibility of criminal charges should be taken seriously.

David Armstrong, Professor of International Relations at Exeter University.    "If a second resolution is voted against, or vetoed, the legal ground looks a bit shaky.

 Martti Koskenniemi, Director of the Erik Castren Institute of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Helsinki in Finland, said that the right of self-defence articulated in the UN Charter "should be read rationally against the useful purpose the rule is intended to serve."  source

As Michael Byers, Associate Professor at Duke University School of Law, explained, customary law traditionally recognized a limited right of pre-emptive self-defence according to what are known as the "Caroline criteria".   a form of words was agreed to govern acts of anticipatory self-defence: there must be "a necessity of self-defence, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means and no moment for deliberation" and the action taken must not be "unreasonable or excessive".    Words agreed to govern acts of anticipatory self-defence: there must be "a necessity of self-defence, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means and no moment for deliberation" and the action taken must not be "unreasonable or excessive".

Eyal Benvenisti, Director of the Minerva Center for Human Rights at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the legitimacy of an act of pre-emptive self-defence depended on whether there were "means other than actual fighting to prevent the threatened attack."

Military chiefs, including Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, have expressed reservations to Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon.

Mexico's Ambassador, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, force could only be valid, "with the prior, explicit authorization of the Security Council."

Matrix Chambers Firm - London