Nicolas J S Davies

A collection of published articles and letters to policymakers regarding the crisis in United States foreign policy by Nicolas J S Davies.

Location: North Miami, Florida, United States

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Letter to Kofi Annan on Continuing Aggression in Iraq

The Hon. Kofi Annan
Office of the Secretary General
United Nations Headquarters
New York NY 10017

Saturday, April 2nd, 2005

Dear Mr. Secretary General,

On September 12th 2004, I wrote to you to express grave concerns regarding the implementation of S.C. Resolution 1546 (2004). In particular, I was concerned that the multinational force authorized in Resolution 1511 (2003) and recognized in Resolution 1546 (2004) was in fact the same force that had invaded Iraq in March 2003 in violation of the U.N. Charter and occupied the country since that time, and that the failure of these resolutions to address or remedy this fundamental contradiction was resulting in continuing conflict and bloodshed in Iraq.

There is now mounting and consistent evidence that U.S. and British forces are using their designation as a U.N.-authorized “multinational force” not to bring security or stability to Iraq but to continue their war of aggression against the people of Iraq. In particular, they are engaged in almost continuous aerial bombardment of inhabited urban areas of Iraq, resulting in death or injury to thousands of Iraqi civilians and in fact constituting the leading cause of violent death in Iraq since March 2003. These air strikes violate numerous articles of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and make a mockery of “the commitment of all forces promoting the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq to act in accordance with international law” as stated in the preamble of S.C. resolution 1546 (2004).

I am sure you are familiar with much of the following evidence of continuing aggression by the multinational force in Iraq:

1) On November 20th 2004, the Lancet published a study by the Center for International Emergency, Disaster and Refugee Studies at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, entitled “Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq”. It concluded:

“Violent deaths were widespread…and were mainly attributed to coalition forces. Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children. Making conservative assumptions, we think that about 100,000 excess deaths or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths.”

2) Nazzal Emergency Hospital in Fallujah was bombed to the ground by the multinational force in the early hours of November 6th 2004, killing doctors, staff and patients.

3) The data in the Johns Hopkins study show that, prior to November 2004, the month of heaviest civilian casualties in Fallujah was August 2004. These casualties were not reported by the international media, who were focused on Najaf at the time, and demonstrate the continuing intention as well as the ability of the multinational force to hide atrocities from public scrutiny.

4) On September 25th 2004, Knight Ridder Newspapers published details of an Iraqi Health Ministry report that analyzed civilian casualties between June 10th 2004 and September 10th 2004. It attributed 71% of total civilian casualties to military action by the multinational force, and noted that the great majority of these casualties were the result of air strikes, providing confirmation of the findings of the Johns Hopkins study.

5) In January, the BBC reported on a subsequent Iraqi Health Ministry report on civilian casualties for the months of July through December 2004. Senior officials of the “Interim Iraqi Government” cast doubt on the precision of its findings, but it confirmed the general picture that had already emerged from the earlier Health Ministry report and the Johns Hopkins study, that the multinational force is responsible for the majority of violent deaths in Iraq, and that the majority of these deaths are the result of air strikes.

6) On July 1st 2004, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study of the experiences of U.S. “ground combat units” during the first months of invasion and occupation. Many of these soldiers and marines have now returned to Iraq as part of the multinational force. 14% of the soldiers interviewed, and 28% of the marines, reported “being responsible for the death of a non-combatant” in Iraq.

7) The destruction of Fallujah by the multinational force is almost total. At least 65% of buildings have been completely destroyed. No more than 10% of the city’s inhabitants have been able to return to their homes, and the remainder are now refugees in their own country. Spokesmen for the multinational force have acknowledged that most resistance fighters had been forewarned of the attack and had fled the city before it began, while adult male civilians had been prevented from leaving, and yet the multinational force attacking the city was given rules of engagement that permitted unrestricted killing of civilians. The destruction of Fallujah clearly constitutes collective punishment as prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention, and a serious war crime by military and civilian officials of the U.S., British and “Interim Iraqi” Governments.

8) The air raids are continuing. Independent reporter Dhar Jamail reported yesterday: “Daily, there are many, many air missions being flown, and huge amounts of bombs being dropped…We have another sort of “mini-Fallujah” situation in Ramadi, where, rather than sectioning off the entire city and doing what they did to Fallujah, they’re doing it neighborhood by neighborhood.”

9) The air-launched weapon most frequently used by the multinational force in Iraq is the Paveway Mark 82 500 lb. bomb. This is a “precision-guided” weapon, which in this case means that it will explode within 10 meters of a given target between 80 and 85% of the time. I have not found any specifications for the distance by which the other 15-20% can be expected to miss their targets. In any case, these weapons are intended to be 100% lethal to a 10m radius, and to inflict 50% casualties to a 50-meter radius. While present international law would seem to already prohibit the use of such weapons in urban areas inhabited by protected civilian persons, their continuing use in Iraq suggests the need for strengthening such prohibitions.

10) The detention practices of the multinational force have been illegal and abominable. U.S. military and civilian authorities have ignored I.C.R.C. warnings and actively conspired to conceal prisoners and practices from the I.C.R.C. Dozens of detainees have been shot, beaten or tortured to death. Tuberculosis is endemic in detention facilities. Food, shelter and medical care are inadequate. Torture and brutality are widespread. Iraqi prisoners have been illegally transported to other countries.

Surely it is time for the U.N. Security Council to recognize that the concept of the “multinational force” has been a complete failure. It is immaterial whether it was from its inception a flawed concept born of U.S. and British intransigence and the weakness of the Council, or whether it was a worthy effort that has simply been abused and manipulated by the British and American governments. In either case, the Security Council now bears its share of responsibility for the havoc being wreaked in Iraq, and therefore has a moral imperative to act on the side of legitimacy and humanity.

I understand that this entire crisis has been a trial by fire for the United Nations as an institution, and that it has posed dilemmas that seem insoluble. However, the United Nations represents the governments and people of the entire world and exists to further the cause of peace. If it can never be entirely successful, this means only that its work must continue. Through opinion polls, elections, demonstrations and other forms of activism, the people of the world have made their views clear, that this aggression is neither warranted nor acceptable, and I am asking the United Nations to respond in accordance with its charter.

Besides the U.S. and the U.K. there are thirteen other countries represented in the Security Council. While consensus between the permanent members may be impossible on this issue, it can still be debated and negotiated, and, out of this negotiation, some solution may be found. At the very least, a vigorous debate in the Security Council should serve to restrain some of the excesses of the multinational force, and to reassert civilized standards for future international behavior. An additional debate in the U.N. General Assembly would add a significant voice to worldwide calls for peace and legitimacy.

Thank you again for giving of your best at such a difficult time for the United Nations and the world. For a fuller discussion of the crime of aggression against Iraq, I would invite you to read my article “The Crime of War: from Nuremberg to Fallujah” which has been accepted for publication in an upcoming edition of Peace Review. You can presently find it at

Yours sincerely

Cc: Congressman Kendrick Meek
Senator Bill Nelson
Senator Mel Martinez
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice
U.N. Legal Counsel Nicolas Michel
Benjamin Ferencz Esq.


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