The Hon. Kofi Annan
Office of the Secretary General
United Nations Headquarters
New York NY 10017
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Dear Mr. Secretary General,
Under Article 31 of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1546 (2004), my government was requested to submit by September 8th a report on “the efforts and progress” of the “multinational force” in Iraq. I do not know whether this report has been submitted yet, but I am writing to express grave concerns regarding these “efforts and progress” that I know are shared by millions of people in member countries throughout the world. I hope that you will convey these concerns to the Security Council.
On March 10th 2003, you stated that an invasion of Iraq by the United States and the United Kingdom without further U.N. sanction would be “not in conformity with the U.N. Charter”, and most international legal experts share this view. Elizabeth Wilmshurst, the senior legal officer at the British Foreign Office, resigned when her government ignored her advice that such action would not be legal and proceeded with the invasion.
In light of the illegality of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Resolution 1546 (2004) is an extraordinary document. On one hand, it represents a great effort by the international community to overcome serious differences in order to provide for the welfare of the Iraqi people and for their political future. On the other hand, it ignores the most fundamental problems facing Iraq, that the interim government was installed by the very forces that had invaded and occupied the country, and that the “multinational force” referred to in the resolution is none other than the army that invaded and occupied it in March 2003. There is simply no prospect that this government with this security force can attain legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraqi people, and this is being borne out by events on the ground as I write.
I would therefore ask that the Security Council undertake a full review of the political arrangements outlined in Resolution 1546. The goal of this review should be to reform the interim government by the inclusion of Iraqis who have legitimate constituencies within the country, and the withdrawal of exiles that have close public ties with the United States and Britain such as Dr. Allawi.
On the “efforts and progress” of the “multinational forces”, there is another fundamental flaw in Resolution 1546 (2004). The preamble notes “the commitment of all forces promoting the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq to act in accordance with international law…” and the resolution goes to great lengths to place these forces within a framework that conveys a sense of legitimacy. However, as I have noted, these are the same forces that invaded and occupied the country, and who have, in reality, failed to overcome resistance, violent and otherwise, to this occupation. The right to defend one’s country against foreign invasion, violently or otherwise, is a basic principle of international law, and is incorporated in the United Nations Charter. None of the U.N. resolutions regarding terrorism cited in Article 17 was designed to curtail this fundamental right. While the chaos in Iraq has clearly drawn in combatants from other countries, as have other wars in the past, and any acts of terrorism directed against innocent civilians must be condemned, Article 17 fails to delegitimize the Iraqi Resistance either under international law or in the eyes of most Iraqis.
Another legal problem is raised by Article 14, which provides for the “multinational force” to “assist in building the capability of the Iraqi security forces and institutions, through a programme of recruitment, training, equipping, mentoring, and monitoring”. This sounds admirable, except that these same “multinational forces” have been engaged in such activities throughout their occupation of Iraq, and that this is in direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), which you have cited as pertinent on numerous occasions during this crisis. Article 51 of Fourth Geneva reads: -
“The occupying power may not compel protected persons to serve in its armed forces or auxiliary forces. No pressure or propaganda which aims at securing voluntary enlistment is permitted”.
Once again, this hinges on the question of sovereignty and legitimacy. If the war was over, and the government of Iraq was truly sovereign and legitimate, it could certainly invite foreign professional military trainers to train its armed forces. But, once again, by skirting the most fundamental issue of legitimacy, the resolution has only served to attach the authority and credibility of the United Nations to illegal conduct in an illegal war. I understand that this was not the intention of the Council, but it is part of the reality that must now be most urgently addressed.
My country’s forces in Iraq are responding to increased resistance by an escalation of force that also violates Fourth Geneva on a daily basis. It is now standard practice for a patrol or convoy that has exploded a mine to blanket the surrounding area with heavy machine-gun fire, resulting in many civilian deaths and injuries. Today, in Baghdad, a helicopter fired a missile at a disabled, unoccupied Bradley that was being swarmed by local civilians including many children, killing an Al-Arabiya reporter and twelve other people. The use of warplanes and attack helicopters in urban, inhabited areas of Baghdad, Najaf, Fallujah and other cities is also illegal in most cases and has been on the increase.
This continuation of war and military occupation under another name should not be acceptable to you or the Security Council. Resolution 1546 (2004) was a good faith effort to assist the Iraqi people, but it has failed to do so. The euphemistic concept of the “multinational force” as it is used in the resolution is fatally flawed. The Security Council must insist on a ceasefire, to be followed by the withdrawal of these forces from Iraq, and must engage with parties that actually represent the Iraqi people to provide for their security requirements. I realize that great differences still exist between the United States and the United Kingdom and their Security Council partners, and I call on you to exercise the leadership for which you have won so much international respect to resolve this crisis.
Cc: Secretary of State Colin Powell
Congressman Kendrick Meek
Senator Bob Graham
Senator Bill Nelson
Senator John F. Kerry