The 52nd Session of the Human Rights Council 27 February – 4th April 2023
General Debate Item 3
17th March 2023
Joint Statement with International-Lawyers.org and Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ)
Delivered by Martin Browne / GICJ
It was the first time I heard my Dad swear. As the invasion of Iraq started in March 2003 - 20 years to the day. What was called “shock and awe” was awful, and shocking.
The invasion was illegal - states broke the foundational prohibition against the Use of Force - ripped international law, cloaked in false justifications, pretending there was an underlying humanitarianism. It was a House of Cards for which there has been no accountability or justice.
Those countries that invaded Iraq are still seated at the Security Council, still controlling foreign territory, and still seeking to exploit the resources of sovereign nations.
For Iraq itself, the consequences of the illegal invasion include the incomprehensible loss of over 1 million individual human lives. The country has suffered to this day under control of armed militias, unconstrained sectarian violence and power struggles exacerbated by foreign intervention. To this day, thousands of those forcibly disappeared in these conflicts have not been found.
Yet, in the USA and UK - the impact of war has left almost no mark. The violations of 2003 are barely remembered and no-one has been prosecuted for the breaches of international law that took place.
The NGOs cosponsoring this statement urge the Council to set up a Commission of Inquiry into the previous and ongoing human rights violations in Iraq.
The impact of the invasion of Iraq was profound and long-lasting. As a reminder that it happened at all, we have these neat, round-number anniversaries, and the graves.