Just a heads up to all those interested. Channel Four News have released a leaked copy of the legal advice given to Tony Blair in the run up to the
War against Iraq.
This advice was unseen by the UK Parliament or even the cabinet and the Prime Minister has insisted that it would NEVER be published but a summary is
Such are the possible legal consequences of publishing this information that the UK government were not told until after it was in the public domain.
We can also expect the text to be withdrawn soon.
First the summary of the story as written in the Guardian online.
Tony Blair was told by the government's most senior law officer in a confidential minute less than two weeks before the war that British
participation in the American-led invasion of Iraq could be declared illegal.
Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general, spelt out to Mr Blair the dangers of Britain going to war without a second resolution. It is understood that he
then went on to warn that British soldiers could be hauled before the International Criminal Court.
He warned that while he could be able to argue a "reasonable case" in favour of military action, he was far from confident a court would agree.
Indeed, he added, a court "might well conclude" that war would be found unlawful without a further UN resolution.
In a legal opinion which Mr Blair has repeatedly sought to conceal, the attorney warned the prime minister that Britain might be able argue it could
go to war on the basis of past UN resolutions, but only if there were "strong factual grounds" that Iraq was still in breach of its disarmament
www.guardian.co.uk... Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
The full legal summary given to Parliament on the 17th March 2003
The document reveals that Lord Goldsmith warned Mr Blair that failure to secure a second United Nations resolution explicitly authorising
military action would force the government 'urgently' to reconsider its legal case.
Resolution 1441 had been passed in November 2003 and gave Iraq 'a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations'.
Extract from Lord Goldsmith's summary given on 7th March 2002 to Tony Blair
"26. To sum up, the language of resolution 1441 leaves the position unclear and the statements made on adoption of the resolution suggest that there
were differences of view within the Council as to the legal effect of the resolution. Arguments can be made on both sides. A key question is whether
there is in truth a need for an assessment of whether Iraq's conduct constitutes a failure to take the final opportunity or has constituted a failure
fully to cooperate within the meaning of OP4 such that the basis of the cease-fire is destroyed. If an assessment is needed of that situation, it
would be for the Council to make it. A narrow textual reading of the resolution suggests that sort of assessment is not needed, because the Council
has predetermined the issue. Public statements, on the other hand, say otherwise.
27. In these circumstances, I remain of the opinion that the safest legal course would be to secure the adoption of a further resolution to authorise
the use of force. [...] The key point is that it should establish that the Council has concluded that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity
offered by resolution 1441, as in the draft which has already been tabled.
28. Nevertheless, having regard to the information on the negotiating history which I have been given and to the arguments of the US Administration
which I heard in Washington, I accept that a reasonable case can be made that resolution 1441 is capable in principle of reviving the authorisation in
678 without a further resolution.
29. However, the argument that resolution 1441 alone has revived the authorisation to use force in resolution 678 will only be sustainable if there
are strong factual grounds for concluding that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity. In other words, we would need to be able to demonstrate
hard evidence of non-compliance and non-cooperation. Given the structure of the resolution as a whole, the views of UNMOVIC and the IAEA will be
highly significant in this respect. In the light of the latest reporting by UNMOVIC, you will need to consider very carefully whether the evidence of
non-cooperation and non- compliance by Iraq is sufficiently compelling to justify the conclusion that Iraq has failed to take its final
30. In reaching my conclusion, I have taken account of the fact that on a number of previous occasions, including in relation to Operation Desert Fox
in December 1998 and Kosovo in 1999, UK forces have participated in military action on the basis of advice from my predecessors that the legality of
the action under international law was no more than reasonably arguable. But a "reasonable case" does not mean that if the matter ever came before a
court I would be confident that the court would agree with the view.
I judge that, having regard to the arguments on both sides, and considering the resolution as a whole in the light of the statements made on adoption
and subsequently, a court might well conclude that OPs 4 and 12 do requ1re a further Council decision in order to revive the authorisation in
resolution 678. But equally I consider that the counter view can be reasonably maintained.
However, it must be recognised that on previous occasions when military action was taken on the basis of a reasonably arguable case, the degree of
public and Parliamentary scrutiny of the legal issue was nothing as great as it is today.
31. The analysis set out above applies whether a second resolution fails to be adopted because of a lack of votes or because it is vetoed. As I have
said before, I do not believe that there is any basis in law for arguing that there is an implied condition of reasonableness which can be read into
the power of veto conferred on the permanent members of the Security Council by the UN Charter.
So there are no grounds for arguing that an "unreasonable veto" would entitle us to proceed on the basis of a presumed Security Council
authorisation. In any event, if the majority of world opinion remains opposed to military action, it is likely to be difficult on the facts to
categorise a French veto as "unreasonable". The legal analysis may, however, be affected by the course of events over the next week or so, eg the
discussions on the draft second resolution.
If we fail to achieve the adoption of a second resolution we would need to consider urgently at that stage the strength of our legal case in the light
of circumstances at the time."Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
1. In Resolution 678, the Security Council authorised force against Iraq, to eject it from Kuwait and to restore peace and security in the
2. In Resolution 687, which set out the ceasefire conditions after Operation Desert Storm, the Security Council imposed continuing obligations on Iraq
to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction in order to restore international peace and security in the area. Resolution 687 suspended but did not
terminate the authority to use force under Resolution 678.
3. A material breach of Resolution 687 revives the authority to use force under Resolution 678.
4. In Resolution 1441, the Security Council determined that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of Resolution 687, because it has not fully
complied with its obligations to disarm under that resolution.
5. The Security Council in Resolution 1441 gave Iraq "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" and warned Iraq of the
"serious consequences" if it did not.
6. The Security Council also decided in Resolution 1441 that, if Iraq failed at any time to comply with and co-operate fully in the implementation of
Resolution 1441, that would constitute a further material breach.
7. It is plain that Iraq has failed so to comply and therefore Iraq was at the time of Resolution 1441 and continues to be in material breach.
8. Thus, the authority to use force under Resolution 678 has revived and so continues today.
9. Resolution 1441 would in terms have provided that a further decision of the Security Council to sanction force was required if that had been
intended. Thus, all that Resolution 1441 requires is reporting to and discussion by the Security Council of Iraq's failures, but not an express
further decision to authorise force.Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
Thankyou Channel 4 News !!!!
[edit on 27-4-2005 by John bull 1]
[edit on 27-4-2005 by John bull 1]
[edit on 27-4-2005 by John bull 1]