20 March 2020

On March 20, 2003, the United States of America and the United Kingdom led an illegal war on the Republic of Iraq, resulting in a devastating occupation and annihilation of the country. Seventeen years have passed since the invasion, but for the Iraqi people, it has now been seventeen years of unfulfilled promises, destruction, death, violations and hardship. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu noted, “the immorality of the United States and Great Britain’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, premised on the lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, has destabilized and polarized the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history.”[1]

Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) hereby demands the creation of an independent, international tribunal to investigate and prosecute those leaders responsible for (i) the illegal war in Iraq, and (ii) crimes committed during the occupation, including crimes against humanity and war crimes. We demand a fair and impartial tribunal, constituted under international law, that will weigh responsibility and provide much needed accountability for the grave crimes committed by the invading countries, including but not limited to the crime of aggression.

Accountability for the Crime of Aggression

The Nuremberg Tribunal declared that, “The initiation of a war of aggression is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime.” The US and UK-led invasion of Iraq was an unlawful war of aggression. International violence between states is prohibited by the Charter unless it is authorized by the United Nations Security Council or committed in self-defence. In addition, the prohibition against aggression is a jus cogens norm of international law, inalienable, and which all countries are required to support and sustain. This norm finds life not only in the Charter, but also in the Nuremberg Charter, the Tokyo Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

By failing to hold the aggressors accountable under law, the international community choose anarchy over the rule of law, and a Darwinian state of nature over collective security. We are now walking the path of a lawless world. When leaders of countries commit international crimes with impunity, rule of law irreparably suffers, leading to the destruction of democratic values, and the end to human rights. Our world is far less safe today than it was prior to the Iraq War, and democracies are far more fragile than could ever have been imagined.

We have no choice but to end this impunity. And the way to achieve this is through the rule of law. Accordingly, we call for the creation of an impartial and international tribunal that can adjudicate the crimes of the Iraq War and restore justice at the international stage.

In addition to the crime of aggression, the international tribunal must also analyse the crimes committed by invaders and occupiers. Many of the violations and effects resulting from the invasion and occupation are well known and have been documented by GICJ and other NGOs and human rights bodies, but the full scale of the destruction, loss of life and suffering of the Iraqi population will never be truly known. Taken together, the war against Iraq and the subsequent occupation has been responsible for countless violations of international law, international human rights law, and international humanitarian law, including, inter alia, violations of the Hague Regulations on Land Warfare, the 1949 Geneva Conventions and its 1977 Protocols, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, various provisions of the UN Charter, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention Against Torture and other Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment.

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[1] Desmond Tutu (2012), Why I had no choice but to spurn Tony Blair: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/02/desmond-tutu-tony-blair-iraq



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