Lawyers Against the War
October 2, 2002
We are a group of lawyers and others from eight countries who have joined together to confront the grave dangers posed by the American "War on Terrorism" to peace, to international law, and to the Charter of the United Nations.
We are writing to you to respectfully insist that you do the utmost within your mandate to ensure that international law is strictly applied to protect the world against the illegal and violent behaviour of the United States, specifically in regard to its threats to attack the sovereign state of Iraq. We are enclosing a brief analysing the legal issues involved that we hope will be of assistance to you in the current debate.
We were appalled by the threats issued by the American President at the United Nations on September 12, itself a violation of Article 2(4) the UN Charter, as well as an affront to the dignity of the General Assembly. The speech and the resolution sent by the President to the United States Congress on September 19 were each an explicit threat to substitute his personal authority for that of the UN unless it should sanction his illegal and immoral war.
A war against Iraq can be expected to take even more than the many thousands of civilian and military lives that have already been taken in the war in Afghanistan.
It is common knowledge that none of the Security Council Resolutions authorize the United States to threaten or use military force against Iraq. Indeed, it is also clear that the inhuman sanctions regime that has far outlasted any rational purpose is maintained only because of the unilateral veto of the United States.
It is also clear in law that non-observance of Security Council resolutions does not in itself entail the right of an individual member of the United Nations to attack another member, unless there is specific authorization within the resolution itself or another resolution. Israel has refused to comply with Security Council resolutions for 35 years and no one is suggesting that this gives other members the unilateral right to attack Israel.
Nor does the suspected or even known possession of weapons of mass destruction by one state entitle another to attack it. Once again the example of Israel, and even the United States itself, is instructive.
Nor do alleged or proven human rights abuses entitle one member of the United Nations to attack another. It should be enough to remind the world that the United States itself is one of the world’s few employers of the death penalty and the country with the very highest number and proportion of its own citizens behind bars.
It is public knowledge that the United States has already used the UN weapons inspection program for espionage to carry on its own relentless and illegal bombing campaign against Iraq.
As a result of all this, it is clear to the peoples of the United Nations that the United States aggression against Iraq has absolutely nothing to do with enhancing world security. It is about America’s own narrow interests in "regime change" and the control of the world’s oil reserves.
We most respectfully remind you that it is the duty of the Security Council and every member of the United Nations to seek a peaceful resolution to this dispute and to identify for the world who is the aggressor and who is the aggressed against. We urge you to use your solemn office to prevent the richest country in the world from once again bullying one of the poorest ones. We most respectfully urge you to stand up for the many thousands of innocent lives that will be lost if the United States is allowed to tear the Charter of the United Nations to shreds and unleash the "scourge of war" the Charter was designed to save us from.