For immediate release: 17 December 2002

While the Government constantly assures Parliament and the British public that it will go to war only under international law, it is refusing to be bound by the English courts.

CND obtained a strong opinion from Rabinder Singh QC and his colleagues at Matrix Chambers that the current United Nations Security Council resolution 1441 on Iraq does not authorise the use of military action.

CND has challenged the legality of the Government’s intention to go to war without direct and unambiguous authorisation from the United Nations. The Government has now blocked further discussion in the English courts.

Carol Naughton, Chair of CND, said:

“The Government wants the freedom to ignore international law when it suits it. War on Iraq will kill thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of innocent civilians. Our intention with this legal challenge is to show that the proposed war contravenes international law and to prevent the British government committing a war crime.”

Mark Thomas said:

“Despite saying it will be bound by international law, the government has hidden behind the courts. It knows its threatened actions are illegal and it is frightened of this being exposed. The government has won an immoral victory. And possibly a temporary one.”

Phil Shiner, Public Interests Lawyers said today:

“This case is highly significant on the question of whether the decision by the UK government to go to war is lawful. The court and the government did not disagree with CND’s case that Resolution 1441 does not permit force – they simply refuse for political reasons to examine this crucial question of international law. This case has wide-reaching ramifications for democracy beyond the present war and CND is considering an appeal.”

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