World’s Lawyers Warn: US Attack on Iran Would Be Illegal

February 11th, 2007 - by admin

National Lawyers Guild / Common Dreams – 2007-02-11 23:33:55


(February 1, 2007) — Today, European, international and United States legal and human rights groups issued an open letter warning of the illegality of any offensive military action by the United States against Iran.

Signatories included the American Association of Jurists, Center for Constitutional Rights (U.S.), Droite Solidarite (France), European Association of Lawyers for Human Rights and Democracy, Italian Association of Democratic Lawyers, Haldane Society (United Kingdom), International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Indian Association of Lawyers (India), Japanese Association of Lawyers for International Solidarity (Japan), Lawyers Against War (Canada), National Lawyers Guild (U.S.), Progress Lawyers Network (Belgium).

Here is the full text of their letter.

Open Letter To All Members of Congress,
the Bush Administration, and the U.S. Armed Forces
From Legal and Human Rights Groups:

There are increasing indications that the Bush administration intends to take military action against Iran. There are also indications that the administration would support military action by Israel against Iran.

The undersigned organizations issue this Open Letter to All Members of Congress, the Administration, and the U.S. Armed Forces to reiterate their affirmative duties to prevent military action and to refrain from ongoing threats to peace.

Offensive military action against Iran would be illegal, as the United States is bound under the United Nations Charter to settle international disputes by peaceful means and to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of any state or act in any other manner inconsistent with the purpose of the United Nations (Article 2 sections 3 and 4).

While Article 51 of the Charter recognizes the inherent right of individual or collective self defense, such a right exists only if armed attack occurs and is allowed only until the Security Council can take measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Any other type of military action by the United States would not be in compliance with the UN Charter.

The UN Charter, as a treaty ratified by the US, is part of the Supreme Law of the United States under Article VI, §2, of the United States Constitution. If the President and Congress fail to abide by the law as provided in the Constitution they violate their sacred oaths of office.

Any military action against Iran in the absence of a military strike by Iran would be a war of aggression outlawed under Article 2(4) of the UN Charter.

If the United States or any other nation were to act outside of its UN obligations, it would risk starting a war of aggression and committing a crime against peace. Furthermore, the sending of aircraft carriers combined with recent threatening statements constitutes a threat to wage war with Iran.

This is also prohibited by the UN Charter. Principle VI of the Nuremberg Principles also makes crimes against peace punishable under international law. Crimes against peace include: planning, preparation, initiation or waging a war of aggression in violation of international treaties, agreements, or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy to accomplish these acts.

The United States and all countries that have ratified the UN Charter are required to abide by their obligations under it. It is in the interests of all countries of the world that the United Nations be a viable multilateral institution capable of carrying out the mission of its charter to preserve peace and promote development and human rights.

Actions which violate the charter undermine it. Actions by the U.S. which violate the charter prevent the UN from acting effectively, they also undermine the credibility of the United States in the whole world community.

The U.S. cannot demand that other countries obey the terms of the UN Charter while it is violating those very provisions with impunity.

Ther US War Powers Act
The War Powers Act, which requires congressional approval of military action, must be read consistently with our obligations under the UN Charter and international law not to engage in wars of aggression. We urge:

• 1. The President, Vice President, and all other members of the Bush administration who have a decision making role with regard to taking military action in Iran, to immediately renounce such efforts to engage in this war;

• 2. The members of the military to refuse any requests by the administration to invade or take any other military action against Iran in light of the illegality of such actions; and

• 3. That Congress immediately pass a binding resolution reaffirming the United States’ legal obligations and informing the President and the administration that it will not concur in any invasion of or military action against Iran, would refuse to approve funding for any such military action, and would consider actions taken in contravention of the resolution as impeachable offenses.

• The American Association of Jurists Vanessa Ramos, Secretary General, vramos1565 at Clea Carpi da Rocha, President, carpi at Beinusz Szmukler, szmukler at

• The Center for Constitutional Rights Vincent Warren, Executive Director, vwarren at Bill Goodman, Legal Director, bgoodman at

• Droite Solidarite Roland Weyl, President, mrwjur at

• European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights RA Thomas Schmid, Secretary General, ra-th-schmidt at t-online.dem Professor Bill Bowring, b.bowring at

• Haldane Society, United Kingdom Liz Davies, liz at

• International Association of Democratic Lawyers Jitendra Sharma, President, jsharma at Jeanne Mirer, Secretary General, mirer at

• Indian Association of Lawyers Mr. G.K. Bansal, General Secretary, gkb at Mr. T.M. Mohammed Youseff, General Secretary, youseffdelhi at

• Italian Association of Democratic Lawyers Fabio Marcelli, fabio.marcelli at

• Japanese Association of Lawyers for International Solidarity, Japan Osamu Nikura, Secretary General, onikura at

• Lawyers Against the War, Canada Gail Davidson, Chair, law at

• National Lawyers Guild Marjorie Cohn, President, libertad48 at

• Progress Lawyers Network, Belgium Jan Fermon, jan.fermon at