International Law as the First Casualty of the Iraqi War? Head, Academic Affairs Office and Chair, Department of Jurisprudence and Legal Philosophy, Philippine Judicial Academy, Professor of Public International Law, College of Law, Cagayan Colleges Tuguegarao

Manila Bulletin, April 29, 2003 | Go to article overview

International Law as the First Casualty of the Iraqi War? Head, Academic Affairs Office and Chair, Department of Jurisprudence and Legal Philosophy, Philippine Judicial Academy, Professor of Public International Law, College of Law, Cagayan Colleges Tuguegarao


Byline: Fr. RANHILIO CALLANGAN AQUINO

WHILE glued to television footage of coalition incursions into Baghdad, a brotherpriest asked me what, if any, was left of international law? The Security Council had adamantly refused to pass a resolution that would have authorized the mobilization of armed forces against Iraq, but the US-UK partnership invaded Iraq anyway and have since relentlessly pummeled it with uncontested superior power. So, has international law been this wars first casualty? I do not think so, and that is what I will argue.

The question of whether or not the war against Iraq is legal does not lend itself to easy resolution. It may very well be that no one answer will meet with consensus. I will not venture a position, except to insist that simplistic positions - such as an unqualified condemnation on the basis of an archaic version of the "justwar" theory - are exactly that: simplistic! It is however important to be clear that nonendorsement by the UN Security Council is not synonymous with illegality. Armed action by one state against another need not be illegal, even without Security Council sanction. A state would arguably be justified in forcibly interdicting another state that had pointed its missiles in its direction, was poised to blast them off after having openly threatened to do so. No Security Council resolution would be needed to legitimize a state's preemptive act in such a case. To protest that this was not the case with the coalition vis-a-vis Iraq is to beg the question, because that is exactly one of the pivotal questions in resolving the issue of legitimacy.

In a sense, the coalition decision not to seek a second Security Council resolution, and to commence hostilities did the United Nations a favor. France and China, it was reported, would veto a second UN resolution either setting a deadline or providing authority for the use of force, and there was good reason to believe that they would in fact wield their veto-power. Had the coalition launched its offensive, a veto notwithstanding, that indeed would have compromised very seriously the competence and the efficacy of the Security Council, and in fact of the United Nations itself.

What the impasse at the Council itself does indicate, however, is that the Yalta-era compromise of conceding to a privileged circle of "powers" the veto power may have outlived its usefulness. Not that all members of the Security Council would have done better to back the United States, rather the threat of the exercise of the vetopower might have effectively rendered the Security Council incapable of dealing further with the issue. The "double-veto" only highlights the problem, because it ultimately leaves to the select five the decision of whether or not an issue will be subject to their veto power.

The failure of the United Nations to hold the coalition back might not appear as disastrous to it if we disabuse ourselves from the inclination to think of the United Nations as a super-state. It is not a superstate, nor even close to one, nor was it organically meant to be one. When a significant segment of the population of a state, or of its armed forces initiates action without governmental authority, one is right to suspect that a rebellion is afoot, or that government control is compromised, or that belligerency must be recognized. But when one considers that the United Nations is principally an organization of states with organs that in many instances resemble State mechanisms but in several respects are also different, than it should be clear that the coalition initiative does not have the same effect on the United Nations as unauthorized troop movement would have on a State. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

International Law as the First Casualty of the Iraqi War? Head, Academic Affairs Office and Chair, Department of Jurisprudence and Legal Philosophy, Philippine Judicial Academy, Professor of Public International Law, College of Law, Cagayan Colleges Tuguegarao
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.