October 5, 2002
Sir, If Iraq is developing weapons of mass destruction, their control and elimination must be done in an effective manner that reinforces international stability.
It is in the utmost interest of the US that its response conforms to international law. Should President George W. Bush decide to use military force in the Gulf, he must conform with the UN charter. Violating it would violate the US constitution, which makes treaties the supreme law of the land (Article VI.2).
The UN charter prohibits the use of force. Only three narrowly defined exceptions apply to this general rule. First, states are permitted to use force in individual or collective self-defence against an armed attack by another state. Second, states are allowed to take military action pre-emptively in case of an imminent threat of such an attack. Third, states may engage in military operations if authorised by the UN Security Council. Such authorisation, however, may be given only after all efforts to restore international peace and security by peaceful diplomacy have failed.
Iraq has not attacked another country, nor is there strong evidence that an attack is imminent. Neither the US nor the Security Council has exercised all available diplomatic options. Because Iraq has agreed to unfettered UN inspections, any military intervention, – if undertaken before the resumption of inspections – would violate international law and the US constitution.
Iraq’s offer to allow unlimited inspections presents the international community with a way of resolving the crisis non-violently. If previous inspections were not adequate, the new inspections need to be made stronger. The relative cost of a robust inspection regime, if compared with that of an uncertain war, is clearly minimal.
The benefits of an approach in accordance to international law, on the other hand, are tremendous. Strengthening the co-operative legal framework is required for numerous issues such as the struggle against terrorism, protecting free trade, promoting human rights and preserving the environment. The US can gain respect by promoting its own core values.
Legislators have a responsibility to promote order through law. Not only is this the right way for the US but it is also the best way to build stability in the world.
President, Global Security Institute
Chairman, Middle Powers Initiative
Member of the Canadian Senate