For immediate release:19 November 2002

Lawyers for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) will send a letter and a top QC’s opinion today at 10am to Tony Blair, Geoff Hoon and Jack Straw warning that they will face a legal challenge over Iraq unless a written guarantee is given within 7 days that the UK will not use armed force against Iraq without a further Security Council Resolution.

It gives the government the option of accepting that SC Resolution 1441 does not authorise force and that a fresh resolution authorising force is required, or justifying its position within international law in a judicial review. The letter attaches an opinion from Rabinder Singh QC and Charlotte Kilroy, both at Matrix Chambers in London.

A summary of the Legal Opinion is that:

UN Security Council Resolution 1441 does not authorise the use of force by member states of the United Nations.
The UK would be in breach of international law if it were to use force against Iraq in reliance on R1441 without a further SC resolution.
Carol Naughton of CND has said:

The Government can be sure that we will go to court unless they give us the written assurance we seek. We are opposed to this proposed war and consider armed force would make a bad situation worse for the Iraqi People We are opposed to this war and call upon the Security Council to abide by the UN Charter and use all peaceful means to resolve this crisis. We deplore the possibility of the UK and US taking action unilaterally to undermine the structure of the Security Council and the integrity of the United Nations.’

Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers has said:

It is crucially important that our government do not undermine the rule of law by acting without a Security Council Resolution. We have made it clear to the Government that Resolution 1441 does not contain a “trigger” for armed force. The government respects the democratic structure of the UN and its Security Council. Even if eventually the Security Council issues a clearly worded authorisation there will be strict limits on what force would be lawful. Armed force to bring about a “regime change” or high level air strikes would be unlawful.’

Mark Thomas has said:

The war is totally immoral, illogical and illegal. We hope that this action will start at least to rectify one of those and prove a valuable platform for campaigners against any military action on Iraq.’