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Threat of military attack on Iran not legal
The International Association of Democratic Lawyers has condemned, in the strongest possible terms, the statement by United States President Barack Obama that the window for finding a solution to the standoff with Iran over its nuclear programme was closing and that intervention by Western powers in Syria is fast approaching. The association adds that these threats "are prohibited by the United Nations Charter and the doctrine of jus cogens."
President Obama’s statement came more than a week ago – just before his talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the eve of the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit on 26 and 27 March. However, he added that that there was still time to resolve the Iranian nuclear standoff through diplomacy.
Turkey, a key ally of the US in the Middle East, is likely to be the host of an international summit some time this month, which is aimed at finding a solution to the dispute between Iran and Israel, the US and European powers on the other.
Iran insists it has the right as signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to develop a nuclear capacity for peaceful purposes such as energy provision and medical applications. Israel, the US and other members of the international community are fearful of an Iran with the capacity to eventually develop nuclear weapons, even if it does not have such intentions as yet.
Deputy secretary-general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) Marjorie Cohn said in a statement published on the website Smirking Chimp that the IADL “notes with concern that while the UN Human Rights Council is on the verge of adopting a new, updated declaration on the Human Right to Peace, the major Western powers are poisoning the atmosphere by creating hysteria to wage war against Syria and Iran.”
The statement further noted: “The UN Charter commands that all Members settle their international disputes by peaceful means, to maintain international peace, security and justice. Members must also refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state or in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.
The Charter does not permit the use of military force under the pretext of humanitarian intervention.
“Western countries and the mainstream media are advocating military intervention in Syria using the Responsibility to Protect doctrine as a justification. The Responsibility to Protect is contained in the General Assembly’s Outcome Document of the 2005 World Summit. It is not enshrined in any international instrument.
"Paragraph 139 says that the international community, through the UN, has 'the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity'.”
The statement by the IADL, a non-governmental organisation having consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council, made it clear that intervention can be sanctioned only by the UN Security Council: “It is only when peaceful means have been tried and proved inadequate that the Security Council can resort to forceful action under Chapter VII of the Charter. That action includes boycotts, embargoes, severance of diplomatic relations, and even military blockades or operations by air, sea or land.
"Chapter VII only authorises the Council to order these forceful measures in order to maintain or restore international peace and security – not to restore domestic order within a state such as Syria.”
The implication of this interpretation of international law is that the introduction of unilateral sanctions against Iran by the US and European powers violates international law.
Meanwhile, Royal Dutch Shell is struggling to pay off historical debt of $1 billion it owes Iran for crude oil because financial sanctions by the European Union and US now make it almost impossible to process payments.
Although the EU gave companies until 1 July this year to wind down their existing business when a ban on Iranian oil imports was imposed on 23 January, the exclusion of Iranian banks from international money-transfer mechanisms considerably complicated doing business with that country.