29th April 2005: for immediate release
In the autumn of 2002 the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament took the government to court to try and prevent war against Iraq by asking the Judges to rule that UN Resolution 1441 did not authorise war. The Judges refused to give an opinion on the case deeming it neither in the public interest in the field of international relations nor within their remit. The Attorney General’s advice leaked yesterday vindicates CND’s position and subsequent events make it profoundly evident that this case was in the public interest. CND are seeking legal advice on the Attorney General’s statement.
The legal opinion CND had received stated clearly that resolution 1441 did not authorise member states to use force. Article 2(4) of the UN Charter prohibits the use of force by member states except for reasons of self-defence or following authorisation from the Security Council. CND’s case was one of the first to question the legality of the war. The Attorney General’s full opinion indicates that he too had doubts about the legality of the war.
In a separate case, CND also warned members of the government that they were on notice that CND would instigate charges of War Crimes at the International Criminal Court if it considered the conduct of the war to be in breach of International Humanitarian Law. The ICC prosecutor is currently investigating such charges against UK Ministers, including Tony Blair.
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament said:
“We are not surprised by the attorney general’s opinion, it is further evidence that the war was illegal and indicates once again the determination of the Prime Minister to lead this country to war against Iraq, at the behest of George Bush. It is also quite clearly vindication of CND’s position at the time that Resolution 1441 was not a legal basis for war. It was quite clearly in the public interest for CND’s case on the legality of war to be heard and we will be seeking a further legal opinion on this matter in the light of the Attorney General’s statement.
The illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq has created massive suffering and violence. Two years since the invasion there are 100,000 dead and the country is spiraling out of control. We must be vigilant in rejecting attempts by Tony Blair to justify further pre-emptive war. Pre emptive war, one without an immediate threat, is both illegal and immoral and the international community must safeguard against any attempts to change international law to allow it.”
Phil Shiner, Public Interests Lawyers said today:
“The importance of the Attorney General’s advice, referring to the pressure from the CND judicial review and its war crimes letter before action, just shows what civil society can achieve.
Although the government pretends not to be concerned, in fact we now know, the threat of a war crimes prosecution was of fundamental concern to the government.”
Notes to Editor:
1. For further information and interviews please contact Ruth Tanner CND’s Press & Communications Officer on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
2. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 32,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere. www.cnduk.org