In the past couple of hours, the Chilcot inquiry on the Iraq war delivered its long-awaited report, which can be accessed here. It is highly critical of virtually every aspect of UK policy that led to the Iraq war and its unfortunate aftermath – indeed, much more critical than many have expected. When it comes to the legal aspects, the inquiry’s mandate did not include an assessment of the legality of the use of force, but the inquiry nonetheless concluded that “the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort” and that:
The judgements about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction – WMD – were presented with a certainty that was not justified.
Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were underestimated. The planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein were wholly inadequate.
The government failed to achieve its stated objectives.
The inquiry also found that:
Mr Blair and Mr Straw blamed France for the “impasse” in the UN and claimed that the UK Government was acting on behalf of the international community “to uphold the authority of the Security Council”.
In the absence of a majority in support of military action, we consider that the UK was, in fact, undermining the Security Council’s authority.
Second, the Inquiry has not expressed a view on whether military action was legal. That could, of course, only be resolved by a properly constituted and internationally recognised Court.
We have, however, concluded that the circumstances in which it was decided that there was a legal basis for UK military action were far from satisfactory.