To: Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
Minster of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham
Minister of Defense McCallum
From: Lawyers against the War
We understand that Canadian troops are presently under the operational control of the US-led forces preparing to invade and attack Iraq. Absent an order from you, these troops will participate in any aggression against Iraq ordered by President Bush and/or Prime Minister Blair. We therefore insist that you immediately recall these Canadian troops. It is critical that you immediately issue clear orders relieving these troops of any perceived obligation to obey orders to participate in the planning preparation or execution of military aggression against Iraq. To fail to do so, will place these troops in the invidious position of committing crimes under both Canadian and international law and being unable to rely on the defense of ‘following orders’.
As you are aware, there is no legal basis to invade or attack Iraq at this time. It is well known despite recent protestations to the contrary by American and British government lawyers, that neither Resolution 1441 nor any prior resolution of the Security Council authorizes the threatened military actions against Iraq. There are no grounds upon which the Security Council could legitimately authorize ‘war’ against Iraq. Iraq does not pose a clear and present threat to international peace and security. Disarmament of Iraq by weapons inspection has not failed. Military intervention has no demonstrated likelihood of furthering international peace and security.
The US and the UK have used a combination of bribery, bullying and falsification of the facts but have failed to secure even tolerance for an invasion of Iraq from world leaders and world citizens alike.
We are aware that at this late moment, some government advisors are suggesting that an invasion of Iraq by the US and the UK is justified under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter as a pre-emptive self-defense strike. This notion has been completely discredited in international law as long ago as the Nuremberg Tribunal, when the Nazis tried to the concept of pre-emptive self-defense strike to justify their invasion of Norway. The Nuremberg Tribunal also characterized illegal aggressive war as “the supreme international crime”. This preposterous and untenable doctrine of pre-emptive self defense cannot legitimize Canadian involvement in such a war. Canadian troops left to follow the orders of their British, American or Australian commanders may participate in the most egregious crimes, including murder.
We have notice that such troops would in all likelihood be participating in further crimes through the use of prohibited weapons, and the failure to adhere to the principles of distinction.
We have already informed you that Canadian participation in military action against Iraq will bring personal criminal liability on those responsible within the Canadian government, including yourself. LAW still intends to pursue prosecution of those responsible on all appropriate charges, including murder and crimes against humanity in Canadian and international courts.
Please confirm receipt and confirm that the government of Canada is recalling Canadian troops. We remain ready to provide you with legal information regarding these matters.
Gail Davidson and Michael Mandel for Lawyers against the War.
LAW letter of January 23rd, 2003.