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March 05 2003
On 5 March, at Prime Minister's questions, I asked Tony Blair about the legality of military action against Iraq under United Nations rules, text below.  As he did not answer my question, I tabled Early Day Motion 842.  Following this, you will find a link to the text of the so called 'second UN resolution' drafted by the US, UK and Spain and information on the proposals from the French and Canadian Governments).

Q10. [100643] Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak): Would at least nine affirmative votes in the Security Council for the so-called second resolution tabled by the US, UK and Spain give clear—I emphasise the word "clear"—legal authority for war against Iraq? What difference would the use of what my right hon. Friend describes as the unreasonable veto make?

The Prime Minister: First, let me assure my hon. Friend that we will always act in accordance with international law. Secondly, in relation to the resolution, we are confident of securing the votes for that resolution and we will carry on working to that end. We are doing that because we believe that it is important that the UN, having declared a position on Iraq, follows through and maintains that position. I know that my hon. Friend opposes our position on the matter, and I do not disrespect that—she is perfectly entitled to do so. However, I know that we both agree that the authority of the UN is important. If that authority is to be upheld, it is important that what we said last November is implemented. If it is not, the effect on the UN—apart from the effect on the international situation—would be disastrous.

Tony Blair did not answer my question, so I tabled the following Early Day Motion:

EDM 842


That this House notes that the UN Charter allows for military force to be used only as an exception and in two sets of circumstances, in self defence or as expressly authorized by the Security Council under Chapter VII; further notes that, in previous crises, the UN has always used the term "all necessary means" when authorizing military action and this phrase is absent from Resolution 1441 and the Draft Resolution proposed by the US, UK and Spain; that on 5 March, the Prime Minister did not answer the question put to him by the Honourable Member for Birmingham Selly Oak as to whether nine affirmative votes for the Draft Resolution in the Security Council would give clear legal authority for war against Iraq; further notes the current legal opinion by Rabinder Singh QC and Charlote Kilroy of Matrix Chambers, that neither Resolution 1441 nor the Draft Resolution individually or together, provide authorization for Member States to use force against Iraq and that, as a consequence, the UK would be acting in violation of international law if it were to join in any attack on Iraq in reliance on either or both of these resolutions; likewise is concerned that the escalation of the bombing by the US and UK in the no-fly zones does not obey UN rules on the use of military force; and therefore calls on the Government to amend its policy on Iraq in line with the UN Charter and international law.

For more information on EDMs click here.

Click here for details of the draft so called 'second resolution' proposed by the US, UK and Spain on 24 February 2003

Click here for details of the proposal put forward by France, Russia and Germany on 24 February 2003

Click here for information about the Canadian Government's proposals

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