by Krishna Ahooja Patel (WILPF International President), June 10, 2003. The invasion of Iran in March 2003 has irreversibly redrawn the economic and political map of the world. The latest resolution of the Security Council adopted on 22 May post facto legitimizes the occupation of the sovereign territory of Iraq. It became quite clear soon after the invasion that the US and UK were desperate to get legal backing from the Council to satisfy the rising anger in Arab countries and continued threats from Al Qaeda. The “coalition of the willing “ consisting of US,U K, Spain, Australia and Poland were enthusiastic about attacking Iraq without recognizing the difficulties with their constituencies. Adopted by a near unanimity of 14 votes for and none against, the Security Council has raised a new global controversy for the agendas of the International community and the civil society. At the time of voting, the only Arab member of the Council, Syria, was absent and was apparently not given adequate time to participate in the meeting or explain their vote. The resolution contains several controversial issues on which negotiations dragged on among the Security Council members.
This resolution has been modified and amended ninety times (consider the translation difficulties). The United Kingdom in welcoming the adoption of this resolution spoke in glowing terms about its role in following the Geneva conventions and advocated an independent role for the United Nations. Its policy line was that in the process of reconstruction of Iraq, the UN should not be marginalized and prevented from sending peacekeepers and from coordinating humanitarian aid worldwide. This was the nature of the role UN was granted under various resolutions before and after the conflict in Bosnia and at a somewhat different level in Kosovo after massive bombing by NATO which shattered the economic and social infrastructure of these countries .Throughout the Iraq crisis, Russia was a reluctant partner and insisted upon accountability by the colonial AUTHORITY. Germany moved away slightly from its early hostility to war and compromised its political stance by agreeing to a framework which would strengthen the UN to participate in moving Iraq towards a representative government. France insisted on a credible international framework underlining that Iraqi people must “take control” of their destiny. The extreme reluctance on the part of the United States to give a central role to the United Nations especially to lift its control over the “oil for food” programme was obviously linked to deals according huge contracts to transnational companies. For this reason, US considered the adoption of this resolution as a “momentous event”, according to Negroponte, the Ambassador to the UN. Once again he emphasized that lifting of the economic sanctions was linked to the brutal regime of Saddam Hussain and that Iraq has now turned an “historical page”.
The occupation of Iraq endorsed by the UN resolution will release the free flow of oil for the exploitation of the transnational companies who had lined up with the military objectives even before the war began. The occupation of Iraq is no more a hidden project of the foreign policy of the US. It has ushered in a new global era of imperialism at the beginning of this millennium which will dry up financial resources for development, underrate and undervalue the global consensus on economic and social goals of the UN millennium summit arrived at after long negotiations in 2000 . It will create worldwide deprivation and loss of livelihoods on an unprecedented scale. The occupation is already depriving the Iraqi people of essential needs by creating scarcity of power and water, political confusion and anarchy. In this economic and political environment talking of freedom and liberty to them is unrealistic, arrogant and pompous.
The various articles of this resolution of the Security Council have violated international law openly challenging Chapter seven of the UN Charter without the use of diplomatic terminology. The words used in the operative paragraphs and specific phrases creating an AUTHORITY (a constitutional term for occupation) are distinct and different from the earlier resolutions on Iraq. If these are read closely between and beyond lines, it clearly confirms the legality of the first steps taken by the colonial authority after invasion towards occupation and governance of Iraq. More importantly, it has created a legal precedence to colonize a sovereign country by giving the military of the foreign and victorious power to exploit the economic resources of the occupied country under the guise of forming a representative or acceptable government. At the same time, by lifting the most stringent economic sanctions ever imposed on a sovereign state for the free flow of oil, the gates for the colonial exploitation of the rich mineral resources of Africa have been widely opened. At the Doha meeting of OPEC in June, the founder member Iraq was absent for obvious reasons of not having any government authority to represent them. In an extraordinary session on June11, it was decided to leave production levels unchanged due to prevailing uncertainties of the return of Iraqi oil exports in the world market. How much oil? Whose control? Whose benefit? The answer to these questions will have enormous influence on the pattern of world trade.
Another important feature of this Iraqi resolution should be properly analyzed. It has also created a special Development Fund to disburse billions of dollars earned from oil, natural resources owned by Iraq and controlled by the colonial authority. Is it surprising that the board members of the Development Fund include International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) and World Trade Organization (WTO)? Will this special oil Fund undermine the authority of the only existing producers cartel OPEC to keep oil prices lower for the declining economies of the rich nations? Or will the oil producers in the United States dictate that the current world oil prices remain stable? Meanwhile, the Iraqi people impoverished by long term sanctions for over a decade will be further trapped in deeper and absolute poverty.
Resolution 1483 marks a new departure in the evolution of the rules of International Law. The laws of just war are not applicable, nor are rules of legitimate defence. The invasion itself was not based on any legal assessment of the threat to the peace and security of the world. Its paragraphs have been interpreted by Washington as implying an absolute authority to control the population and natural resources of Iraq with the support of the Bretton Woods Institutions, notably the IMF and the World Bank. The current interpretation given to the resolution signals ominous dangers for future relations among states based on the rules of law. It signifies that the threat of preemptive attack on any small and vulnerable member state could be legitimised after the fact if its current regime does not follow the policy line of the superpower. As pointed out by a high level spokesperson from the US State Department,”the UN is an effective instrument of US policy”. This is as clear and concise as statements go in foreign policy. The question is how some of the European members of the Security Council, particularly France and Russia allowed its adoption even though it spells out a deepening and dangerous decline of the international humanitarian law constructed brick by brick over the last half a century. The main purpose of the architecture of rules and regulations of international humanitarian law after the Second World War was to limit human suffering in times of armed conflict and place restraints on victorious states.
The most relevant issues of disarmament and its related Treaties (such as NPT, CTBT) continue to be on the international agenda as the Conference on Disarmament has not been able to move towards negotiating any consensus. The resolution in question has provided a pause and perhaps bought time for the UN inspectors to return to Iraq to look for the non-existing weapons of mass destruction. Do they exist and how and where to find them will not be as easy as declared by Bush and Blair? The misleading evidence seems to be spread out in the intelligence files of the Pentagon and defence ministries. Some of the relevant questions have been answered outside the institutional procedures of the UN and more particularly by the International Atomic energy Agency (IAEA). The chief UN inspector Hans Blix has clearly spoken on the non-existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq since 1991.But he was less clear before the war. It is obvious that the military preparations and political decisions to attack Iraq were not in any way connected to this rhetoric. The massive media propaganda on the imminent threat to world peace was clearly designed to mislead world public opinion in accepting the inevitability of war against Iraq. The question of lack of evidence on weapons of mass destruction and the nature of the role of the UN after the conflict has ended are issues that have created a deeper transatlantic rift between the US and the European powers. The populations of France, Germany and Russia will continue to pose these questions and the alternative media will not let them rest. It was precisely the UN role on Iraq before and after the invasion that came in the way of negotiations during and after the drafting of the latest resolution on Iraq. France, Russia and China insisted on a central or vital role of the UN during relief and reconstruction efforts by the international community in the process of nation building. US on the other hand did not succeed in making the UN” irrelevant”.
Despite lobbying among various capitals before the G8 conference in Evian, the discussions on Iraq could not be side stepped. The media assurances from Bush and Blair that they had the support of the international community did not in anyway influence the street protestors or the size of the demonstrators. The official declaration that emerged from Evian from this annual ritual of the club of the rich on the shores of Lake Geneva covered a large area of consensus on the health sector of developing countries, for example, by creating a new Fund on AIDS with cheaper pharmaceutical products. More contributions were also pledged by the G8 on infectious diseases including TB. South Africa played a major role on pushing this issue with a lot of technical help by the WHO: Clearly the development agenda on trade and supplementary resources was ignored. France took the initiative of inviting 13 developing countries as observers for the first time in this club, but their presence did not influence the dramatic issues that keep half the world below the poverty lines. For Evian, the eight kilometer zone between France and Switzerland was monitored by sixteen thousand police at the estimated cost of half a million Euros. Preparations to minutely observe the activities of the demonstrators were made with highly advanced technology, helicopters, cameras, tear gas equipment and batons. What needs to be considered seriously is the new street agenda that the protestors publicized in their banners, graffiti and campaigns. All over the city in Geneva, the messages of the civil society and the solidarity coalitions were addressed against the neo -liberal agenda which is moving the world economic system away from equity, peace and justice for the ordinary citizens. For instance, there were slogans such as “Kill the WTO”, ”No Globalization or No Capitalism”, “Reduce the power of the transnational corporations”, “Save the planet” and “Work for peace”. A large number of younger protestors who participated in huge demonstrations successfully stopping all activity called themselves “Other Globalisers” (Les Altermondialists). The new generation which arrived from all over Europe has clearly equated globalization with what they term as “crony capitalism “
The new High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Sergio Viera Del Mello has been nominated by the Secretary General to be the UN representative in Iraq to participate in the management and administration of the country in chaos for three months. There is a lot of speculation on this choice as the Human Rights issues are left with his deputy in Geneva. The European countries that were not part of the “Coalition of the willing” (France, Germany and Russia) to attack Iraq were not willing to marginalize UN Specialized Agencies with enormous experience on humanitarian work in conflict zones such as the World food Program (WFP) and the High Commissioner For Refugees (HCR) .They have supported and carried a heavy burden in the post-conflict situations and not only in Bosnia and Kosovo. Since the 1991 Gulf War, the conflict zones in the world have expanded to cover a large part of the world. The role of the UN Peacekeepers has been made more and more difficult and dangerous as they are no respected and subject to attacks and ambush. The bombing of Bosnia and of Kosovo left behind devastation and destruction where the technical expertise and humanitarian assistance of the UN institutions became crucial and continues to be more and more in demand. This was the main reason that United Nations presence has become a political necessity for the International community as the civil society has been emphasizing.
Another UN Security Council resolution (1325) adopted in October 2000, which urged member states in post-conflict situations to involve women at all stages of peace-building has been completely sidelined by the colonial authority. At the first meeting of the local representatives at Ur, seventy six men and four women were invited to form the nucleus of a government in Iraq. When asked why there were so few women, the answer given by the organizers was that there is no safety in public places for women to enable them to come out of their homes. What is remarkable is that the colonial authority first protected oil resources and then allowed archaeological resources and hospitals to be looted. Women have been shown in the media screaming and weeping bundled up in black. This is another twist in the history of Iraq in a country where women were highly qualified and worked in large numbers in both the public and the private sectors only recently. Even when conditions of safety have been established and women have regained mobility in public places, it does not follow that they will become automatic partners in the formation of a future government. It is an irony of the western definition of democracy being promoted by the colonizers that during the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein that women were present at all political levels. Now they have become invisible.
Which international rules or regulations have given the United States the authority to promote regime change and impose American model of democracy in the world? Overthrowing elected governments not to the liking of the United States is certainly a new concept of international morality. Is the world rolling back to the early nineteenth century?