Chinese NGO Head on US, British Military Action against Iraq

The US, British-led military action against Iraq is a contemptuous breach of the basic norms of international law which is creating a humanitarian catastrophe for the Iraqi people and bringing a profound, serious threat to the world.

Li Jianying, vice-president of the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA), made the remarks during an exclusive interview with Xinhua Sunday.

The war launched by the United States and Britain is illegal, unjust and unjustified, for it violates the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter and of international law, including the respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country, non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, and the peaceful settlement of international disputes, Li said.

He said the US and Britain are blatantly interfering in Iraq's internal affairs by initiating a war to overthrow its government, headed by Saddam Hussein.

Furthermore, the US and Britain showed disdain for and undermined the authority of the UN by launching the war without the authorization of its Security Council, Li said.

According to the UN Security Council Resolution 1441, Iraq would face "serious consequences" if it refused to destroy weapons of mass destruction.

Most member states of the UN Security Council have explicitly pointed out that the resolution did not include the automatic authorization of the use of force.

As a matter of fact, the U.S. and Britain apparently held the same view, Li said, explaining that, had this not been the case, they would not have found it necessary to propose a second resolution and make tremendous efforts to lobby for its passage.

The United States and Britain took hasty military action despite objections from most nations and despite the progress being made in weapons inspections, which indicates that the real purpose of the action is, although claiming to disarm Iraq, precisely to control Iraq and proceed to dominate the strategically-important Gulf region that links up Europe, Asia and Africa, to control the strategic oil resources, and to deal hard blows to nations which adopt a hostile attitude toward the United States, Li said.

The United Nations is the largest international organization in the contemporary world armed with the strongest authority for the sole purpose of safeguarding international peace and security.

This function of the UN should definitely be strengthened rather than weakened, given that the organization plays an irreplaceable role in today's world with its serious imbalance of power and unstable international situation, Li said. The UN Security Council has always played an important, leading role on the Iraq issue, and its relevant resolutions have provided the legal basis for the political settlement of the issue. Also, under its guidance, major progress was made in weapon inspections in Iraq.

Following the adoption on Nov. 8 of Resolution 1441, which laid the legal foundation for a political solution of the issue, the UN weapon inspectors conducted nearly four months of unlimited, free inspections and Iraq adopted an increasingly cooperative attitude, Li noted.

The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and most UN Security Council member states all held that progress had been made in the weapons inspections process, which constituted the correct and feasible way to disarm Iraq, and that it should therefore be continued.

Li urged the concerned nations to change their attitude of "referring to the United Nations only when it is useful", and of "giving in to unilateral action".

The US, British-led military action, the first trial of the US "preemptive action" strategy, will pose a serious and profound threat to the global security situation, Li said.

If the United States succeeds in this endeavor, it may launch similar military action against other nations which adopt hostile attitudes toward the US, he said.

The situation will become even worse if other nations imitate the erroneous practices of the United States in its disdain for the basic norms of international relations. The norms guiding international relations would then cease to exist, leaving the world in turmoil and the international situation even more unstable, Li said.

Relations among the big powers have already been strained as a result of the Iraq issue, and will deteriorate further if the United States decides to "punish" the anti-war nations as it has suggested it may, following the end of the military action, he said.

However, there have also been positive reactions to the Iraq issue in the world, Li said, saying that some important anti-war nations and other nations have maintained frequent contact and intimate consultations to coordinate their positions, which is favorable to the development of multilateralism.

Apart from this, people from all countries, including the United States, Britain and Australia, have expressed their pro-peace and anti-war sentiments through anti-war demonstrations and protests, which helps to restrain unilateralism and militarism, Li said.

The Chinese government has always had a clear-cut and firm stance on the Iraq issue, having done a tremendous amount of work and made huge efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis before military action was undertaken. The Chinese Foreign Ministry also issued a statement on the very day that the war broke out, Li said.

In the statement, the Chinese government appealed to the nations concerned to halt military action as quickly as possible, to return to the correct path and to immediately resume the search for a political solution to the Iraq issue within the UN framework. It also underlined that Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected by the international community.

Li expressed his indignation and concern over civilian casualties and material losses suffered by the Iraqi people and strongly appealed to the United States, Britain and other nations to halt all military action immediately and to return to peace and stability in the Gulf region. (Xinhua News)



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