by Thalif Deen
(IPS) UNITED NATIONS --
United Nations cannot legitimately authorize the use of military force against a country that violates or defies Security Council resolutions, Middle East experts, peace activists and human rights groups said.
As the United States continues to pressure the senior members of the Security Council to support a resolution that would permit force against Iraq, the groups argued that other nations have frequently breached UN resolutions with no consequences.
"Many countries have defied UN and Security Council resolutions under very similar circumstances," said John Burroughs of the Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy. "But the United Nations has not used force against them," he told IPS.
For over two weeks now, the United States has been holding negotiations with the remaining four veto-wielding members of the Security Council -- Britain, France, China and Russia -- trying to get support for a resolution sanctioning a military attack on Iraq.
But the negotiations have apparently bogged down primarily because France is insisting on two resolutions: the first one laying down stringent conditions for arms inspections in Iraq, and a second one authorizing the use of military force if and when Iraq refuses to cooperate with arms inspectors.
The United States is insisting that there should be only one resolution, which will permit Washington to automatically invade Baghdad if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein reneges on his pledge to cooperate with the inspectors.
President George W. Bush says that one of the reasons for the proposed attack is Iraq's defiance of the Security Council and its refusal to implement 16 UN resolutions, including one demanding the return of all prisoners of war and renouncing involvement with terrorism and terrorist organizations.
Bush has also accused Iraq of breaching a UN resolution against the repression of its own people, including the Kurdish minorities.
Burroughs said that South Africa resisted UN condemnation -- including Security Council resolutions -- of apartheid for decades.
India and Pakistan, he added, have failed to comply with a recent Security Council resolution demanding that they end their nuclear weapons programs.
For decades, Burroughs said, India has ignored a Security Council resolution calling for a UN-supervised plebiscite in the disputed territory of Kashmir. And Israel is in violation of numerous Security Council resolutions.
South Africa is a good example of how a long-term strategy of international pressure can force a nation to change, said the Lawyer's Committee in a letter to members of the Security Council on Thursday.
"It appears reasonably possible that it could be effective with respect to Iraq as well, especially in combination with progress on other Middle East issues." Stephen Zunes, associate professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, and Middle East editor of Foreign Policy in Focus, said that countries other than Iraq are currently violating more than 90 Security Council resolutions.
Thirty-one of those involve Israel, according to his figures.
Arab diplomats say Israel has violated at least 70 UN resolutions from both the Security Council and the General Assembly since its creation as a nation in 1948.
It has not only refused to implement Security Council resolutions calling for the return of land captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war but also violated resolutions "reaffirming the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty, and the right of the Palestinians to their homes and property".
In an editorial last week, the Jerusalem Post criticised British Prime Minister Tony Blair for saying there is "no double standards" for those who violate UN resolutions.
"Unfortunately, in apparently seeking to soothe Arab wrath as Washington and London prepare to attack Iraq, Blair helped nurture one of the most manipulative anti-Israeli propaganda ploys, namely that in the Mideast conflict, Israel is the one who habitually violates UN resolutions," the editorial said.
"The fact is that most anti-Israeli UN resolutions are passed by its General Assembly, which comprises delegates from every country in the world, and whose decisions are not binding. The UN's binding resolutions are those passed by the Security Council, which has only five permanent members," the paper added.
Even in that forum, most Israel-related resolutions are passed under the UN charter's non-binding Chapter 6, while those passed on Iraq since 1991 were under the charter's Chapter 7, which deals with conflicts that threaten international security, said the Post.
Jacqueline Cabasso, executive director of the California-based Western States Legal Foundation, said the Bush administration's "unilateral headlong rush to war threatens not only unprecedented regional instability and potentially catastrophic loss of life, but it also threatens to do away with existing international order".
"The Security Council has a solemn obligation to act in full accordance with the UN charter and its values," she added.
Burroughs said his organization was more inclined toward the two-stage approach advocated by France. Even if Iraq is in defiance of the council, he said, "the use of force is not the way to go."
October 10 2002 (http://albionmonitor.com) All Rights Reserved. Contact email@example.com for permission to use in any format.
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