Embargoed: 05.00 4 March 2003

A legal opinion from two leading international lawyers from Matrix, London warns the UK Government that the use of force against Iraq, without a Security Council authorisation, will be a clear violation of international law and that the Draft Resolution sponsored by the UK, US and Spain does not authorise force.

The opinion obtained today from Rabinder Singh QC and Charlotte Kilroy 1 on behalf of CND , and other leading NGOs, advises:

1. The Draft Resolution would not authorise the US and the UK to use force against Iraq if it were adopted.

2. In the present circumstances as known to us, if there is no further resolution clearly authorising force, the US and the UK would be acting in violation of international law if they were to attack Iraq .

This opinion will be used as part of an international campaign of lawyers and NGOs to make the US and UK Governments accountable, in law, for any unlawful actions. Lawyers in the US , Canada , Australia , Ireland , and other countries will be using this opinion to put pressure on their governments to act in accordance with the law.

Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers 2 said today: “This opinion leaves no room for doubt. Without a specific Security Council authorisation war will be illegal. This draft does not give that authorisation.”

The UK Government is misleading the general public into thinking that if a second resolution is adopted, the US and UK will have a mandate for war, no matter what the wording of that resolution is. This is not the case. It is important to remember that what international law requires is a resolution clearly authorising force. The Security Council can adopt any number of resolutions, but unless theses resolutions state clearly that force is authorised, the US and the UK will not have a mandate from the United Nations to attack Iraq .

It is vitally important that the public are aware that if the government go to war following the adoption of this draft resolution by the Security Council they will be acting in violation of international law.”

Carol Naughton, Chair of CND said today: “The UK Government want it both ways. It is fully aware that all this talk about a ‘second resolution’ is just a smokescreen for illegality and is trying to pull the wool over the public’s eyes. The government knows full well that to take military action is illegal but doesn’t want the British people to know that.”

Mark Thomas said today: “This is another entry in the governments catalogue of lies and distortions. The Bush/Blair draft resolution turns the UN into a PR department for war. Blair might wave this bit of paper around as if it is significant but it has as much validity as Chamberlain¹s famous piece of paper in the 30’s.”



1. Rabinder Singh QC and Charlotte Kilroy have advised previously on whether or not Resolution 1441 authorises force and concluded that it does not. Both acted for CND in a High Court challenge to Tony Blair, Geoff Hoon and Jack Straw leading to a judgment on 17 December 2002 . See The Judgement.

2. Phil Shiner, is acting for CND and other NGOs in trying to stop an illegal war being waged. This coalition plans to make the leaders of the UK Government accountable to the ICC if the use of force involves indiscriminate attacks on civilians.