No to America’s war

10/12/2002
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Press release by the FIDH International Bureau

In the diplomatic sphere, the United States is seeking to organise as broad a coalition as possible. In terms of public awareness, many media organisations are preparing public opinion for a war they consider inevitable. In the field of operations, equipment and personnel seem to be ready for action.

Little by little, whatever the results of the UN inspectors’ investigations, a new and apparently inevitable Gulf War is taking shape, almost as a logical next step. The FIDH International Board, with 22 members from all parts of the world, has adopted the following position, published on International Human Rights Day, 10 December 2002 (54th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).
Paris, 10 December 2002 - The FIDH has long denounced the crimes against humanity committed by Saddam Hussein and his regime, who have inflicted appalling suffering on the populations of Iraq. The FIDH supports their aspiration to break free of such a repressive regime. But under no circumstances would the upcoming American war effectively fulfil these aspirations.
The populations of Iraq subjected to Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship of terror and the systematic violation of their rights as a result of the UN embargo , share the essential aspirations of all the people of the region, starting with the settlement of conflicts in the region (and not only the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). They also aspire to social justice and economic development - the United Nations Development Programme recently pointed out how much this rich region has missed out on development and the transition to democracy. These populations also demand that their freedom and fundamental rights be respected - the civil, political, economic, social and cultural freedoms to which they legitimately aspire. The respect of these rights also depends on democratic management of their pluralism (particularly the rights of national, ethnic, religious and cultural minorities).
None of these aspirations could be fulfilled if a war under American superpower leadership were to be waged. The only reason for this war is the American administration’s opportunism in pursuit of goals that are far removed from any desire to help the victims of the Baghdad regime: geopolitical and economic goals and domestic political concerns. This war would have devastating consequences for the region, especially its most vulnerable and already hardest-hit civilian populations. It would accentuate the problems it claims to solve.
Even if made "legal" (i.e. formally recognised by the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter), this would not be a legitimate war. It would basically be the product of the Bush administration’s desire to be the judge of Good and Evil in the world, despite the fact that the vast majority of the international community disagree with the American assessment. The Security Council’s involvement would merely give an appearance of legality to the war - a fact that once again highlights the importance and urgency of reforming the Security Council. Security Council involvement would mean the United Nations continuing a purely procedural role, ensuring that due form is followed, whereas its real task should be to seek genuine solutions in the name of the international community and not to act under pressure from its most powerful member. Lastly, a conflict "legalised" in this way would demonstrate the selective manipulation of the Security Council and the refusal to apply the same rules to all. There are States other than Iraq which, given their policies and the arms they possess, represent serious threats to international peace and security.
Meeting the aspirations of the populations of Iraq and the region as a whole requires other means, and it is mainly the responsibility of the Security Council to apply those means.
Therefore, the FIDH calls on the UN Security Council to firmly oppose the American project.
It calls on it to
1. Establish, as an urgent priority, an ad hoc International Crimes Tribunal to try Saddam Hussein and the other perpetrators of international crimes against the populations of Iraq - since the International Criminal Court cannot be used as its competence is not retroactive;
2. Immediately lift the UN embargo, except for the arms embargo, and take well targeted sanctions that affect only Saddam Hussein and his accomplices;
3. Introduce an Action Plan to promote human rights, democracy and development in all countries of the region. The Security Council must first require these governments to:
- sign and effectively implement the international instruments protecting human rights, particularly (i) the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; (ii) the Convention against Torture; (iii) the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; (iv) the Convention on the Rights of the Child; (v) the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; (vi) the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families; (vii) the Convention on Refugees’ Rights; (viii) the Geneva conventions on the Protection of Civilian Populations in Times of War:
- the ratification of the Statute of the International Criminal Court.
In all spheres, and especially if it has to launch an armed operation to re-establish international peace and security, the involvement of the United Nations must be non-selective and indivisible. All peoples have the same rights and all governments the same obligations.

FIDH International Bureau

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