The Australian section of the ICJ questions the proposed attack on Iraq
There is no justification in International Law for the United States of America’s proposed attack on Iraq.
There is no right for any country to carry out “pre-emptive” strikes.”, said Mr Steve Mark, Chairman of the Council of the Australian Section of the International Commission of Jurists.
“There is no individual or collective right in international law to attack another State unless it is an act undertaken in direct self defence. The case for self defence from an imminent threat by Iraq has not been made out by the USA, Britain, Australia or any other country.”, said Mr Mark.
“The primary role of the United Nations Organization is to promote international peace and security. We believe the United Nations does not have the legal power under its Charter to authorise an attack on a sovereign State that is not a legitimate exercise of self defence.”, said Mr Mark. “The United Nations Security Council has never authorised pre-emptive aggression or invasion. Authorisation for military action has so far only occurred following invasion or attack, as in the first Gulf War.”, said Mr Mark.
“The United Nations Security Council, in its “responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security” is bound to “act in accordance with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations”.”, said Mr Mark. “Neither these Purposes and Principles, nor the express powers granted to the Security Council in Chapters VI, VII, VIII, and XII of the Charter of the United Nations, allow the Security Council to resolve to undertake aggressive war. The Security Council is bound to act in accordance with the United Nations Charter’s principles of peaceful settlement of international disputes and to refrain from threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of political independence of a state.”, said Mr Mark.
“Australia has a significant, long standing and historical commitment to the United Nations. This commitment is among other things a legal commitment, by way of treaty, to support the United Nations and its agencies.
Australia is bound to act in accordance with its obligations under the United Nations Charter and other applicable treaties. Australia therefore holds a special duty to encourage countries to adhere to correct international legal principles in any Security Council resolution.”, said Mr Mark.
“Australia should await the precise terms of any further resolution of the United Nations Security Council before determining a course of action, and when it does, Australia should be mindful of its obligations under international law as to the conduct of armed conflict, at the same time taking into account Australia’s obligation to support decisions of the United Nations.”, said Mr Mark.
United States-attack on Iraq-press release-2003 (text with annex: Excerpts from the Charter of the United Nations)
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