The lies that lead to war
How the Government deceived Parliament, HM forces, the media and
the public into waging illegal wars with Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
“War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression therefore, 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.”
Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal 1946
The method used by British Governments to persuade the nation to wage war is as old as the hills - lie repeatedly about the illegality of war. The British Government used the same lie to promote the war with Libya as it had done for the wars with Afghanistan and Iraq - that military action by HM forces is lawful and authorised by the UN Security Council operating under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
On March 21st 2011, shortly before 559 MPs voted in favour of illegal military action against Libya, the UK Government issued a statement making the false claim that the deployment of British forces against Libya was lawful and authorised by UN Security Council Resolution 1973; their note declared:
“The Attorney General has been consulted and Her Majesty's Government is satisfied that this Chapter VII authorisation to use all necessary measures provides a clear and unequivocal legal basis for deployment of UK forces and military assets to achieve the resolution's objectives”.
This Government statement, claiming that the armed attack on Libya would be legal, exemplifies the way in which British politicians, lawyers and civil servants pervert and break the law. By cross-checking Government statements against the laws governing the use of force, it can quickly be established that the wars with Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are all illegal.
The law of war
The two main legal documents which govern the use of armed force in international affairs are the UN Charter and UN General Assembly Resolution 2625. The first lays down the law and the second explains how to interpret it.
The UN Charter
The UN Charter is the Statute which lays down the legally binding terms of this agreement in 111 Articles. Article 2 states the purposes of the United Nations and includes these rules:
2.3 All members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace, security and justice are not endangered.
2.4 All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
Chapter VII of the UN Charter (Articles 39 - 51) contains the rules governing the measures that the UN Security Council may take to bring about peace and security. Article 41 states:
The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon members of the United Nations to apply such measures…
To a person with common sense the phrase not involving the use of armed force means not involving the use of armed force; so why do British Government lawyers repeatedly claim that the UN Security Council has authorised the use of armed force when it is clearly forbidden?
UN General Assembly Resolution 2625
In 1970 the United Nations agreed 51 new definitions of the law governing in UNGA Resolution 2625:
DECLARATION ON PRINCIPLES OF INTERNATIONAL LAW CONCERNING FRIENDLY RELATIONS AND
CO-OPERATION AMONG STATES IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CHARTER OF THE UNITED NATIONS
This Declaration is one of the most important legal documents the world has ever produced; yet few if any public office holders in Britain or America have seen it or read it. It includes these rules:
Every State has the duty to refrain in its international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations. Such a threat or use of force constitutes a violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations and shall never be employed as a means of settling international issues.
No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements are in violation of international law.
The principles of the Charter which are embodied in this Declaration constitute basic principles of international law, and consequently [the UN General Assembly] appeals to all States to be guided by these principles in their international conduct and to develop their mutual relations on the basis of the strict observance of these principles.
These laws are crystal clear. The use of force is prohibited. The use of armed force to attack other nations is a crime. No state or group of States such as NATO, ISAF or the EU, may intervene in another State’s affairs and every State must obey, uphold and enforce these rules.
The crimes associated with waging aggressive war, laid down in the Nuremburg Principles and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, are also clear. If any person, in furtherance of a state policy, orders the use of force to attack members of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, that person and everyone who takes part in the attack is responsible for the consequences, breaks international law and, if it results in the deaths of innocent people, commits the universal crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, aggression or conduct ancillary to such crimes.
So why do British and NATO politicians, lawyers and civil servants interpret phrases such as all necessary measures, humanitarian intervention, and not involving the use of armed force to mean using weapons of mass destruction such as cruise missiles, rockets, drones, bombs and radioactive munitions to invade and occupy Afghanistan and Iraq or to attack Libya? Could the real reason for these heinous decisions to kill innocent civilians and destroy weaker nations be a psychopathic lack of conscience and moral values, or is it perhaps because they know that they control the law enforcement processes and can ensure that they will never be arrested, prosecuted or convicted for their war crimes, for the suffering inflicted on their victims or the horrific consequences of their decisions.
For more than sixty years UK Government Ministers, officers and lawyers have deceived everyone over the illegality of war and armed conflict and have got away with it. These massacres of Afghan, Iraqi and Libyan civilians in which at least 450,000 children have died and more than 1m have been injured and maimed since 2001 are the worst atrocities in British history. Why is it then that not one member of the UK establishment is willing to call a halt to the killing or speak out against it? Why is it that those with the power to stop the wars and enforce the laws repeatedly refuse to do so?
It is time for law abiding citizens everywhere to take a stand against Britain’s political, civil, judicial and military leaders and institutions to ensure that the killing is stopped, the resort to war is ended and those responsible for the deaths of 1.5m civilians are arrested and prosecuted for their crimes.
Chris Coverdale The Peace Strike August 2012
[In his next article Chris will lay out what individual citizens in NATO countries can do to stop their Governments from waging illegal wars, murdering civilians, committing crimes against humanity and corrupting the justice process.]