Iraq

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Legal Advisors before the Iraq Inquiry, Part 2

Part 1 available here. Today’s testimony of Lord Goldsmith before the Iraq Inquiry (BBC report) was mostly focused on revisiting the revival argument for the invasion of Iraq. Lord Goldsmith gave a reasonably strong performance in defending his sudden change of position in the advent of the war, when he in the space of a few weeks or so first provisionally advised that Resolution 1441 was insufficient to revive the UNSCR 678 authorization to use force, only to come the other way around in his final advice just a few days before bombs started raining on Baghdad. Though my impression is that the Inquiry members were less impressed by his testimony than they were by the FCO legal advisors’ yesterday, it still cannot be said that the Inquiry exposed Lord Goldsmith as cravenly caving to political pressure or giving manifestly mistaken advice – he is far too good a lawyer for that to have been reasonably expected, let alone happened. In short, his explanation of his change of position was as follows: it was the result…

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Legal Advisors at the Iraq Inquiry, Part 1

Today was the start of an extraordinary week for assessing the impact international law had on the decision of the US, the UK and their allies in going to war with Iraq in 2003. The UK Iraq Inquiry today heard the testimony of Sir Michael Wood, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Legal Advisor from 1999 to 2006, and Elizabeth…

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UK Inquiry to Consider Legality of Iraq War and Appoints Former ICJ President, Dame Rosalyn Higgins as International Law Adviser

This past summer, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the establishment of an inquiry into the UK's involvement in the Iraq War. The Iraq Inquiry, which is independent of the government, began work at the end of July.  The committee will consider events from the summer of 2001 until the end of July 2009 when all British forces left Iraq. This…

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Norm Conflicts and Human Rights

Consider the following scenario: the United Kingdom, together with the United States and other allies, invaded Iraq in 2003. From that point on, there was an international armed conflict between the UK and Iraq. Further, as it obtained effective control over certain parts of Iraqi territory, the UK became the occupying power of these territories. Under Art. 21 of the…

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The OLC Memoranda on Iraq: Revisiting the Case for War

Yesterday, the Office of the Legal Counsel of the US Department of Justice released some of its secret memoranda to President Bush, several of which are of interest for international lawyers. Two of them deal with questions of IHL, that is the applicability of the Third Geneva Convention to the Taliban, and of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the…

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