Invasion of Iraq-"violation of International Law"

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by nigegilb, Nov 18, 2008.

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  1. Nothing we didn't know already, but interesting coming from such an authorative source. Be interesting to see if Labour Govt allows an independent inquiry when troops are pulled out next year. Guess a fair few Ministers will be sweating it.


    Top judge: US and UK acted as 'vigilantes' in Iraq invasion
    Former senior law lord condemns 'serious violation of international law'

    * Richard Norton-Taylor
    * guardian.co.uk, Tuesday November 18 2008 00.01 GMT
    * The Guardian, Tuesday November 18 2008
    * Article history

    One of Britain's most authoritative judicial figures last night delivered a blistering attack on the invasion of Iraq, describing it as a serious violation of international law, and accusing Britain and the US of acting like a "world vigilante".

    Lord Bingham, in his first major speech since retiring as the senior law lord, rejected the then attorney general's defence of the 2003 invasion as fundamentally flawed.

    Contradicting head-on Lord Goldsmith's advice that the invasion was lawful, Bingham stated: "It was not plain that Iraq had failed to comply in a manner justifying resort to force and there were no strong factual grounds or hard evidence to show that it had." Adding his weight to the body of international legal opinion opposed to the invasion, Bingham said that to argue, as the British government had done, that Britain and the US could unilaterally decide that Iraq had broken UN resolutions "passes belief".

    Governments were bound by international law as much as by their domestic laws, he said. "The current ministerial code," he added "binding on British ministers, requires them as an overarching duty to 'comply with the law, including international law and treaty obligations'."

    The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats continue to press for an independent inquiry into the circumstances around the invasion. The government says an inquiry would be harmful while British troops are in Iraq. Ministers say most of the remaining 4,000 will leave by mid-2009.

    Addressing the British Institute of International and Comparative Law last night, Bingham said: "If I am right that the invasion of Iraq by the US, the UK, and some other states was unauthorised by the security council there was, of course, a serious violation of international law and the rule of law.

    "For the effect of acting unilaterally was to undermine the foundation on which the post-1945 consensus had been constructed: the prohibition of force (save in self-defence, or perhaps, to avert an impending humanitarian catastrophe) unless formally authorised by the nations of the world empowered to make collective decisions in the security council..."

    The moment a state treated the rules of international law as binding on others but not on itself, the compact on which the law rested was broken, Bingham argued. Quoting a comment made by a leading academic lawyer, he added: "It is, as has been said, 'the difference between the role of world policeman and world vigilante'."

    Bingham said he had very recently provided an advance copy of his speech to Goldsmith and to Jack Straw, foreign secretary at the time of the invasion of Iraq. He told his audience he should make it plain they challenged his conclusions.

    Both men emphasised that point last night by intervening to defend their views as consistent with those held at the time of the invasion. Goldsmith said in a statement: "I stand by my advice of March 2003 that it was legal for Britain to take military action in Iraq. I would not have given that advice if it were not genuinely my view. Lord Bingham is entitled to his own legal perspective five years after the event." Goldsmith defended what is known as the "revival argument" - namely that Saddam Hussein had failed to comply with previous UN resolutions which could now take effect. Goldsmith added that Tony Blair had told him it was his "unequivocal view" that Iraq was in breach of its UN obligations to give up weapons of mass destruction.

    Straw said last night that he shared Goldsmith's view. He continued: "However controversial the view that military action was justified in international law it was our attorney general's view that it was lawful and that view was widely shared across the world."

    Bingham also criticised the post-invasion record of Britain as "an occupying power in Iraq". It is "sullied by a number of incidents, most notably the shameful beating to death of Mr Baha Mousa [a hotel receptionist] in Basra [in 2003]", he said.

    Such breaches of the law, however, were not the result of deliberate government policy and the rights of victims had been recognised, Bingham observed.

    He contrasted that with the "unilateral decisions of the US government" on issues such as the detention conditions in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

    After referring to mistreatment of Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib, Bingham added: "Particularly disturbing to proponents of the rule of law is the cynical lack of concern for international legality among some top officials in the Bush administration."
     
  2. Well said Ya Onour, I regret you did not say it when you where sitting.
    Still I must admit you know more then me about The Law.
    john
     
  3. Good point a man of conviction would have spoken out at the time
     
  4. *Cough*

    http://212.58.226.17/1/hi/uk_politics/7337988.stm

    Lords reject Iraq inquiry appeal



    Either I've woefully misunderstood that, there are two Law Lords called Bingham of Cornhill or My Noble Lord's left hand, knows not what the right does?
     
  5. Strange a judge never read UNSCR678
     
  6. Don't think that has that much to do with his current statement does it? He's addressing risk here, the issue of whether the war was legal or illegal is separate. He could have added something like "It is jolly illegal though, isn't it." just to make things clear, though.
     
  7. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    It was more important to him to keep his fat pension and job than speak out about the legality of a war before it started. Another spineless trough-gobbling bovine old fool who waited until he retired before getting outraged.

    He's as morally bankrupt as the people who sent us to war. Pot, this is kettle, over . . .
     
  8. He possibly didn't want to be found next to a tree having comitted suicide.
     
  9. It would be very high on my wish list to see Blair and his cronies trying to explain themselves in court, but thats all it is a wish. As for the judge, JUst another pig at the trough.
     
  10. Given the amount of bleating on this board as to how the UK criminal justice system is set up to protect the criminals, I'm amazed no one here has suggested the same with international law. If the very act (as opposed to the cack-handed implementation) of removing someone like Hussain was illegal, it strikes me that there is something very wrong with the system - particualrly in this case where two of the five jury members had oil cantracts and were owned vast amounts of money by him. How would you feel if someone was up for murdering one of your relatives and you found out half the jury were members of the accused's family? I expect upon hearing the inevitable 'not guilty', vigilantisem would take on something of an appeal.
     
  11. 'Both men emphasised that point last night by intervening to defend their views as consistent with those held at the time of the invasion. Goldsmith said in a statement: "I stand by my advice of March 2003 that it was legal for Britain to take military action in Iraq. I would not have given that advice if it were not genuinely my view. Lord Bingham is entitled to his own legal perspective five years after the event." Goldsmith defended what is known as the "revival argument" - namely that Saddam Hussein had failed to comply with previous UN resolutions which could now take effect. Goldsmith added that Tony Blair had told him it was his "unequivocal view" that Iraq was in breach of its UN obligations to give up weapons of mass destruction.

    Straw said last night that he shared Goldsmith's view. He continued: "However controversial the view that military action was justified in international law it was our attorney general's view that it was lawful and that view was widely shared across the world." '

    ....Great thread.Have a question about this as heard the above points raised on Radio 4 this morning- but also that the Security Council did not stop Blair, even though they disagreed with the decision to go into Iraq.

    Why didn't the SC stop the process ? They had the power, surely? Even if TB's inner Cabinet did not want to rock the boat, why didn't the International commuity prevent the USA and UK from going in ? If the view was 'widely shared', why the sh*tstorm now ?

    (NB :According to the book I'm reading (Clare Short's inside story on the whole debacle), Jack Straw was Blair's poodle, as B was Bushes).
     
  12. This reminds me of the old Spike Milligan joke about newspaper headlines he'd like to see:

    Archduke Franz Ferdinand found alive!
    WW1 a mistake!
    "Sorry" say kaiser!

    It's all very well saying now that the invasion was illegal, but I suspect sweet FA will be done and Blair and Bush will get away scot free while the rest of us pay for their ambitions for the foreseeable future.

    :x :x :x

    Rodney2q
     
  13. In my opinion there was a "collective" failure of indiviuals to stand up and be counted, many of whom were more concerned about protecting their own careers once the PM's desire to go to war had been communicated. The whole Intelligence and Political establishment acted under herd instinct/group think. The Conservative Party has been unable to make headway on this issue because it too did not want to be seen rocking the Establishment boat at the time.

    One million ordinary people marched through London in protest, they could see the invasion for what it was, but this aspect of democracy was ignored.

    International Law has been written in deliberately vague legal language. That said I am surprised by the unequivocality of Lord Bingham's comments. Directly ignoring conventions of International Law sends out a terrible message to those countries with the military might to do something similar in the future, such as Russia, (Georgia), China and India. It has also stripped the US and UK of any pretence of being some kind of moral guardian in the world. The Iraq war emboldened ME countries to go all out for nuclear protection from future invasion, such as Iran.

    Iraq War has been a disaster in so many ways, not least the human aspect, because so many people have died for a cause that many international law experts believe to be illegal.

    Let's hope there is still legal action that can be taken. I rather doubt it, for many years the war crimes tribunal has been known as a victor's court.
     
  14. What war crimes? The Nuremburg trials condemed aggressive wars in relation to wars of conquest in the mold of Hitler's quest for 'Lebensraum'. Nothing of the sort happened in Iraq.

    What could the people see the war was for? I read the papers every morning and I still can't find evidence of convoys of looted crude turning up in UK or US.
     
  15. At the risk of sounding glib I have to wonder what is the point of Lord Bingham's 'condemnation' some five and-a-half years after the event?...beyond covering his own backside that is.