Letter: Iraq and the UN

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THE measures which the United Nations Security Council sanctioned to secure Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait in 1991 were soundly based. But on that sound base, in the heat of the general condemnation of Iraq, the United States secured the adoption of many resolutions which had very little to do with the original violation of international law. If the US had proposed public hanging of Saddam Hussein in front of the White House, the Security Council at that time would most probably have approved.

The threatened bombardment hence cannot be justified in this instance by reference to the formal resolutions of the Security Council. It should accord instead with the Charter of the UN. One of the basic requirements for mounting an attack on a sovereign state is that there should be an impending threat of use of force by that state. No one has produced any evidence that Iraq is going to attack any neighbouring state. Mere possession of lethal weapons in itself does not make a case for attack; if that were so, several members of the United Nations, including most of the permanent members of the Security Council, would be suitable targets.



The writer is former Senior Lecturer in the Department of Public International Law, University of Edinburgh