BUSH AND COHORTS ARE WAR CRIMINALS!
Public Interest Law Center
“We can go anywhere, anytime; change government; and do whatever we want because we are the super-power.” – Pres. George W. Bush.
Today, the US launched its war of aggression upon the Iraqi people. As lawyers, it is timely that we in the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) most empathically state our legal position on this invasion.
The invasion of Iraq by the US armed forces is a war for the domination of the world, for the subjection of the national sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity, and economic resources of states to the imperial prerogatives of the lone superpower.
Contrary to what the war-mongers would like people to believe, the invasion of Iraq today is a naked display of power, flaunting all the principles and norms of international law which regulate the use of force, illustrating that the US places itself above the law. There is absolutely no justification under international law for the US invasion of Iraq.
Under Article 2, paragraph 4 of the UN Charter, all states are under obligation not to use force or to threaten another state with force. The “use and threat of force” and “acts of aggression” are considered not only illegal, but a negation of the very rationale of the UN system. Under Article 1 of the UN Charter, the very first enumerated purpose of the UN is precisely to “suppress acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace and to bring about by peaceful means…adjustment and settlement of international disputes.” As a corollary, under Article 2, paragraph 3, states are obliged to settle their disputes through peaceful means.
The only situations when resort to force is allowed under the UN Charter are: (1) in case of self-defense, which may be exercised individually or collectively by states under armed attack, and (2) when force is resorted to by the UN itself acting through the Security Council in the form of so-called “enforcement measures” under Chapter VII (Articles 39 to 50) of the UN Charter. In the latter case, use of force is always an option of last resort, requiring that all peaceful means not involving the use of force have been exhausted. Moreover, the letter and spirit of the Charter require that all UN-sanctioned armed operations be under multilateral control and direction, giving substance to the injuction that “armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest”.
In addition, under customary international law, all coercive actions must stand the test of necessity and proportionality, which implies, among others, that only such force as is necessary and commensurate with the nature of the breach may be employed, i.e., the remedy must fit the wrong. War’s weapons, in particular, must discriminate between combanants and non-combatants.
The US is in no way under armed attack nor has an imminent attack by Iraq been credibly argued, much less, established, as to justify the US’ resort to force in its self-defense. The unnecessary and disproportionate toll in terms of death and suffering of Iraqi civilians brought by massive aerial bombing in the first hours of the invasion cannot be justified by imagined threats from a spent and defeated Iraqi military force which is, according to the UN, only one fifth of what it was during the Gulf War of 1990-91.
While the chief winners of a regime change, viz., the American and British petroleum companies (including those owned and managed by the Bush family, US Vice President Dick Cheney and other cabinet members of the Bush administration) who stand to replace competing French and German monopolies, salivate over their spoils, i.e., the second largest proven oil reserves in the world, the dead and the dying among the Iraqi people are being written off as so much “collateral damage”. Today, the US has launched its attack by indiscriminately bombarding the populated city of Baghdad with scores of monstrous missiles under the dubious pretext of “decapitating” its leaders.
The US does not have any mandate from the Security Council when it started this war. No pretense (as previously maintained in the Gulf War of 1990) is put up that this war is a UN-sanctioned war. Rather, it is a war to flaunt to all the world that the lone superpower acts and decides to obtain whatever goal it chooses whether or not the UN approves.
The announced goals which the US has chosen for its invasion of Iraq, namely, regime change and the “liberation” of Iraq, and its most likely consequence, the “occupation of this ethnically divided country for as long as a decade” (Jimmy Carter), are alien to the purpose of Resolution 1441 (“first resolution”) which concerns the disarmament of Iraq principally through peaceful means, and do not find support therein. While Resolution 1441 obliges the government of Saddam Hussein to accomplish a sequence of tasks towards complete disarmament and warns of “serious consequences” for non-cooperation or breach of its obligations, the Security Council explicitly provided that the task of reporting non-cooperation or breach lies with the weapons inspectors, not the US, and the power to prescribe the “serious consequences” for such non-cooperation or breach rests in the Security Council, not the US. The US may not enforce Resolution 1441 through war especially in the absence of a credible finding by the weapons inspector of breach by Iraq and an authoritative decision of the Security Council on the basis thereof.
The arrogance by which the US President ignores the resounding opinion of the peoples of the world as well as the UN organization and the Security Council, promotes hatred among those who are helpless and frustrated, and foments destructive violence and terrorism. Thus, ironically, the war that masquerades as nipping terrorism in the bud will spawn more terrorists who will endanger Americans even more.
There is no shortage of condemnation in international law of the use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State such as we are witnessing in the US invasion of Iraq.
“To initiate a war of aggression,” says the Nuremberg Tribunal, “is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” (Judgment of the International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, September 30, 1946)
The UN General Assembly in Resolution 3314 (1974) declares unequivocally that: “No consideration of whatever nature, whether political, economic, military or otherwise, may serve as a justification for aggression. (Art. 5, par.1) A war of aggression is a crime against international peace. Aggression gives rise to international responsibility. (Art. 5, par. 2)”
The straightforward denunciation of the US invasion of Iraq is the single most compelling task of the international community now that respect for international law by the US, the state with the greatest proven potential to wreak havoc upon the world, has sunk to its lowest level. To denounce the US invasion of Iraq as an international crime of aggression is a duty that under Article 39 of the UN Charter the Security Council must discharge and from which it cannot escape.
All governments which support the US invasion of Iraq, including the government of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, under Article 5 in relation to Article 3 (f) of the G.A. Resolution 3314, incur international responsibility, and are equally criminals under international law.
All individuals, including leaders who participate in the conception and planning, and troops who are involved in the execution of the invasion incur individual criminal liability. Conversely, members of the invading armed forces are obliged not to execute the orders of their superiors which are clearly criminal in nature. Leaders and followers alike, from states-parties to the Statutes of the International Criminal Court, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Bulgaria and Australia, are directly inviting indictments before the International Criminal Tribunal whose jurisdiction extends to the overlapping crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression.
We call upon all people’s lawyers all over the world to expose the arrogance and duplicity of the US and denounce its invasion of Iraq as an international crime of aggression and put President George W. Bush and all war criminals to justice!
March 20, 2003, Metro Manila, Philippines
PUBLIC INTEREST LAW CENTER
H.E. ROMEO T. CAPULONG
Atty. MARIE F.T. J. YUVIENCO
United Nations Ad Litem Judge
International Criminal Tribunal
for the Former Yugoslavia
Atty. EDRE U. OLALIA
Atty. RACHEL F. PASTORES
Atty. MARICHU C. LAMBINO
Atty. ROM-VOLTAIRE C. QUIZON
Atty. JAYSON S. LAMCHEK
Atty. Jayson S. Lamchek
(632) 8993439/ 8993416
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in April 5, 2003