Anyone in doubt about the legality of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq must hear Judge Richard Goldstone. "It is unlawful and morally unjustifiable," he has ruled. Judge Goldstone has impeccable credentials to back his judgement. Among his many honorary doctorates, he is a leading authority, in fact one of the world's most respected authorities on international law.
He is currently a judge of South Africa's Constitutional Court, the highest court in the land. He has also served as the chief prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia. Among his stock of achievements is an international human rights award by the American Bar Association.
In a recent frank interview with The Sunday Times and Sunday Tribune of South Africa, Judge Goldstone laid down the law of nations:
"There are only two lawful ways of using military force," he said. "One is in the case of dire self-defence, where an attack had been launched or the threat of attack was so imminent that there was no time to wait for the UN Security Council to act."
The only other legal basis for military action, he explained, was when the Security Council authorised it. Clearly neither of these happened in the case of Iraq.
"The self-defence argument is very weak. The US was hardly under threat of imminent attack by Iraq. So too the UK, and even more so Australia," Goldstone said.
"UN Resolution 1441 clearly did nor authorise the use of military force. It expressly said that if [the Iraqi leader] Saddam Hussein remained in material breach of prior Security Council resolutions, and 1441, there would be serious consequences.
"Those consequences were not spelt our. And what is important is that at the time the resolution was passed, China, Russia and France stated expressly that the resolution they were voting for did not authorise the use of force, and that the matter would have to come back to the Security Council.
"It was quite clear that the majority of Security Council members did not authorise the use of force. For that reason, my view and the overwhelming view of international lawyers is that the attack on Iraq was not in accord with international law."
Last year, Judge Goldstone gave an address in America and predicted that it would not be long before the US had to rely on the Geneva Convention. He warned that the US was weakening its own future claims by ignoring the Convention.
That has happened with the showing of US prisoners of war on Iraqi...