Posted by Lilly from ? (220.127.116.11) on Tuesday, November 19, 2002 at 12:40PM :
November 19, 2002
Anti-War Group Plans Legal Action to Stop Iraq War Without UN Approval
An anti-war group said Tuesday it would take the British government to court unless it promised not to attack Iraq without explicit United Nations approval.
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament based its challenge on an opinion by lawyers from Matrix Chambers, the firm that includes Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie among its partners.
The group said it had sent a letter to Blair, Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw asking for a written guarantee that Britain would not use force against Iraq without a new resolution from the U.N. Security Council.
The letter threatens legal action if the guarantee is not received within a week.
"The government can be sure that we will go to court unless they give us the written assurance we seek," said CND chairwoman Carol Naughton.
The legal opinion from Matrix lawyers Rabinder Singh and Charlotte Kilroy argues that the resolution agreed by the Security Council on Nov. 7 does not authorize the use of force to disarm Iraq.
The resolution is designed to rid Iraq of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs and threatens the country with unspecified "serious consequences" if it fails to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors.
In October, lawyers from Matrix argued both sides of a mock legal inquiry into military action against Iraq. The inquiry chair, Colin Warbrick, ruled that force was unjustified without a new U.N. resolution.
CND argues that use of force without a new resolution would breach international law.
"We have made it clear to the government that Resolution 1441 does not contain a `trigger' for armed force," said Phil Shiner, a human rights lawyer representing the peace group.
"Even if eventually the Security Council issues a clearly worded authorization there will be strict limits on what force would be lawful.
"Armed force to bring about a 'regime change' or high level air strikes would be unlawful."
© 1995-2002, The Jerusalem Post
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