Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Parliamentary Debate on Iraq War

This is from Global Women's Strike -

On Tuesday 31 Oct 2006, MPs will debate the war in Iraq in the Commons, 3.30pm onwards. How about filling the gallery?
Lobby of Parliament - 2pm

On Tuesday, 31 October Plaid Cymru and the Scottish Nationalist Party will initiate a full Commons debate on the "Conduct of government policy in relation to the war in Iraq and its aftermath".

This will be the first full debate on the war for two years. The government has refused to call for a debate that would review its policies in Iraq -- despite the deaths of over 650,000 Iraqi women, children and men, the huge anti-war marches in Britain and around the world, the ongoing picket and other demonstrations in Parliament Square, and the growing numbers of military personnel refusing illegal and immoral orders.

Over the past 80 years British Governments have given binding undertakings to the world that Britain would never wage a war of aggression [1], never use armed force to threaten or attack another country [2], never kill or harm human beings [3], never destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group [4], always settle international disputes peacefully, respect human rights, uphold and enforce the rule of law and act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood and co-operation [5], yet over the past five years this Government has reneged on every one of these treaties and worse still, by waging a war of aggression [6], has committed the world's worst crime, a crime against peace.

Extract from "When will Parliament uphold the laws of war?" Chris Coverdale, letter to MPs, October 2006.

In the debate in Parliament on Wednesday, 25 October 2006, on "Troop withdrawal from Iraq", Adam Price MP (Plaid Cymru) called for the withdrawal of UK forces and that the government should:

"Make a commitment to make reparations for the suffering that we have caused-not just the invasion and the occupation, but the 12 years of sanctions that devastated millions but did nothing to harm the political elite, and all those years that we in the UK and the US supported and armed Saddam while he committed his worst atrocities." (Hansard)

In the same debate, war criminal Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram had the audacity to claim that: "some would say" the anti-war movement is "pro-dictator"!

· On Tuesday 31 October, the Global Women's Strike and Payday men's network will lobby our MPs and attend the debate. We hope there will be many others. Join us in the central lobby at 2pm.

· If you can't make it, call or email your MP. To find your MP and her/his contact details see

· Insist that your MP support a call for an independent public inquiry into the conduct of government, and that those who have acted criminally be charged.

· See below for the "The Laws of War"- information for us all about the government's illegal conduct - please use to lobby MPs.

· Please forward this email to your friends and networks.

Hope to see you there!


The Laws of War

The laws governing warfare and armed conflict

1/ All war is illegal. There is no such thing as a just war or lawful armed conflict. War was outlawed in 1928 when the world's major nations including Britain, America, France, Germany and Japan agreed The General Treaty for the Renunciation of War (The Kellogg-Briand Pact) promising never to wage war. In 1950 the UN enacted the Nuremburg Principles which placed the criminal responsibility for planning and waging a war of aggression, crimes against humanity and war crimes on all persons who initiate or take part in such crimes.

"The solemn renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy necessarily involves the proposition that such war is illegal in international law; and that those who plan and wage such a war with its inevitable and terrible consequences are committing a crime in so doing... War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

The Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal

2/ The use of armed force is illegal. The UN Charter prohibits the threat or use of force. Determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, the nations of the world drew up a solemn and binding agreement promising never to threaten or use armed force, to work together to promote social progress, human rights, freedom, justice and respect for the law, and to settle their disputes by peaceful means. The role of the UN Security Council is to keep the peace and it can never authorise the use of armed force. The only circumstance in which the use of armed force is legal is when it is used (proportionately) to defend a state under attack.

3/ Wilful killing is a crime regardless of whether or not it takes place during or as a result of war. Knowingly engaging in or taking part in an act which brings about the death of a person constitutes the crime of murder. The Offences Against the Person Act 1861 states that:

"Where any murder or manslaughter shall be committed on land out of the United Kingdom, whether within the Queens dominions or without, and whether the person killed were a subject of Her Majesty or not, every offence committed by any subject of Her Majesty in respect of any such case, whether the same shall amount to the offence of murder or of manslaughter, may be dealt with, inquired of, tried, determined and punished in England or Ireland."

4/ Genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court incorporated the crimes of genocide, a crime against humanity and war crimes into international law and set up the world's first permanent court to hold to account all those responsible for such crimes. Britain signed and ratified the treaty and incorporated the crimes into domestic criminal law in the International Criminal Court Act 2001.

It is an offence against the law of England and Wales for a person to commit genocide, a crime against humanity or a war crime, or to engage in conduct ancillary to such an act. This applies to acts committed in England or Wales or outside the UK by a national, resident or a person subject to service jurisdiction.

Genocide is "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such, (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part..."

A Crime Against Humanity [7] is "any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack: (a) Murder; (b) Extermination;... (e) Imprisonment; (f) Torture; (h) Persecution; (i) Enforced disappearance; (k) Inhumane acts causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health."

War Crimes are "grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, namely any of the following acts against persons or property (i) Wilful killing; (ii) Torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments; (iii) Wilfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health; (iv) Extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity; (vi) Wilfully depriving a prisoner of war or other protected person of the rights of a fair trial;

7/ Aiding, abetting or assisting Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity or War Crimes. The International Criminal Court Act 2001 introduced the offence of 'conduct ancillary to genocide, a crime against humanity or a war crime'. This makes it a crime for residents of Britain to aid, abet or assist in such crimes and means that any supportive behaviour such as paying tax, supplying weapons, writing a supportive article, or voting in favour of an offence, is an equally serious crime. This enables MPs, civil servants, arms manufacturers, bankers, taxpayers or journalists who support such crimes to be prosecuted as accessories to the crime.

8/ Chemical and biological weapons. The Chemical, Biological and Toxin Weapons Conventions prohibit the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical, biological and toxin weapons.

9/ Landmines are illegal. Stimulated by the horrific deaths and injuries inflicted on children in the third world, the Landmines Convention was agreed in 1997 forbidding the manufacture, possession or use of landmines and anti-personnel explosives.

10/ Torture is illegal. The Convention against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman and Degrading Treatment prohibiting torture, came into effect in 1985 and was incorporated into British legislation in the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

11/ The right to life was granted by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is guaranteed in Britain by the Human Rights Act 1998.

"Everyone's right to life shall be protected by law. No-one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided in law."

Everyone is guaranteed the right to life and to live in freedom under the rule of law. The only circumstance in which it is legal to kill an adult occurs in a few less civilised states when a person has been tried and convicted of a capital offence in a court of law.

We have the laws but no-one to enforce them. International conflicts are started by political leaders and governments, never by the people. American, British and Israeli Governments regularly violate international treaties and commit the worst crimes known to mankind. They get away with these crimes because no-one holds political leaders to account for such crimes. Britain's law enforcement authorities conspicuously fail to do what they are paid to do, to investigate crimes and arrest, prosecute, convict and punish offenders. If no-one enforces the law, is there any point in enacting it in the first place? What will you do today to ensure that Parliament upholds, and our law enforcement authorities enforce, the laws of war?

Chris Coverdale, Action Against War, October 2006

1. The General Treaty for the Renunciation of War 1928

2. The United Nations Charter 1945

3. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948

4. The Genocide Convention 1948, The International Criminal Court Act 2001

5. The United Nations Charter 1945

6. The Nuremburg Principles [No VI] 1950

7. These are extracts. The complete definitions can be found in ICCA 2001 Schedule 8



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