David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Military Ethics 3 (2):82-104 (2004)
This article evaluates the legality of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the March 2003 attack on Iraq. The author rejects assertions that Security Council Resolution 1441 (2002), standing alone, contained a mandate to employ force; on the contrary, the Resolution was only adopted on the understanding that it did not. The law of self-defense, including its ?preemptive? variant, similarly provided no legal basis for the action because the degree of Iraqi support to terrorism was insufficient and the threat of use of weapons of mass destruction was not imminent. With regard to humanitarian intervention, the suffering inflicted by the Saddam Hussein's regime did not rise to a level allowing intervention. Moreover, international law does not permit forceful regime change except when authorized by the Security Council. However, the author argues that material breach of the 1991 cease-fire in Security Council Resolution 687 released the US and UK from their obligation to refrain from hostilities, thereby reactivating the use of force authorization in Security Council Resolution 678 (1990). This latter justification was the sole official legal justification offered for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
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