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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

What Does He Know About International Law? He's Foreign 

Comments tonight by Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, suggest that it may not be too soon to retire the argument that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was justified because Saddam had violated U.N. resolutions:
The United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, declared explicitly for the first time last night that the US-led war on Iraq was illegal.

Mr Annan said that the invasion was not sanctioned by the UN security council or in accordance with the UN's founding charter. In an interview with the BBC World Service broadcast last night, he was asked outright if the war was illegal. He replied: "Yes, if you wish."

He then added unequivocally: "I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view it was illegal."

Mr Annan has until now kept a tactful silence and his intervention at this point undermines the argument pushed by Tony Blair that the war was legitimised by security council resolutions.

Mr Annan also questioned whether it will be feasible on security grounds to go ahead with the first planned election in Iraq scheduled for January. "You cannot have credible elections if the security conditions continue as they are now," he said . . . .

The UN chief had warned the US and its allies a week before the invasion in March 2003 that military action would violate the UN charter. But he has hitherto refrained from using the damning word "illegal" . . . .

[L]ast September, Mr Annan issued a stern critique of the notion of pre-emptive self-defence, saying it would lead to a breakdown in international order. Mr Annan last night said that there should have been a second UN resolution specifically authorising war against Iraq. Mr Blair and Mr Straw tried to secure this second resolution early in 2003 in the run-up to the war but were unable to convince a sceptical security council.

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