Did Saddam Hussein's violation of United Nation resolutions justify the invasion of Iraq?

PRO (yes)

George W. Bush, MBA, 43rd US President, stated on Oct. 8, 2003 at the "2003 Republican National Committee Presidential Gala" in Washington, DC:

"Yet it is now undeniable -- undeniable -- that Saddam Hussein was in clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441. It is undeniable that Saddam Hussein was a deceiver and a danger. The Security Council was right to demand that Saddam disarm. And America was right to enforce that demand."

Oct. 8, 2003 - George W. Bush, MBA 

Colin Powell, MBA, US Secretary of State at the time of the quote, stated in a Mar. 16, 2003 interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week:

"We have had timelines, we have had deadlines, and we have had benchmarks. The problem is Iraq is not complying. Iraq is playing the United Nations and playing some of our friends in the permanent membership of the Security Council like a fiddle.

It's a game and the problem is strictly on the shoulders of Saddam Hussein who is not complying with the simple instructions of 1441 and all the previous resolutions. And we cannot get ourselves confused about what the problem is. The problem is Iraqi noncompliance and non-cooperation with the inspectors and with the will of the United Nations."

Mar. 16, 2003 - Colin Powell, MBA 

James P. Terry, SJD, LLM, Principal Chairman of the Board of Veteran's Appeals at the Department of Veterans Affairs, wrote in a July 1, 2004 Naval War College Review article titled "A Legal Appraisal of Military Action in Iraq":

"The determination by the George W. Bush administration to enter Iraq and remove the regime of Saddam Hussein from power in early 2003 followed twelve years of Iraqi violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions. Prior to the decision by the United States and its coalition partners to intervene in Iraq with military force, Saddam Hussein had done everything possible to avoid complying with the will of the international community. Of the twenty-six demands made by the Security Council since 1990, Iraq had complied with only three...

In Iraq, the coalition led by the United States and the United Kingdom was responding to an attack on the very effectiveness of the United Nations security system, by seeking redress for repeated violations of Security Council resolutions. If not addressed directly, these violations would have done irreparable harm to the minimum world order system represented by Article 2(4) and Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, to the peace and security of the region, and to the well-being of the Iraqi people."

July 1, 2004 - James P. Terry, SJD, LLM 

David Horowitz, MA, President of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, wrote in a June 18, 2004 article "The Big Lie Campaign":

"The justification for sending the military to topple Saddam Hussein was the violation of UN Resolution 1441 and 16 UN resolutions before that. Resolution 1441 authorized the use of force as of December 7, 2002, the deadline that had been set by the Security Council on November 8, 2002."

June 18, 2004 - David Horowitz, MA 

James Turner Johnson, PhD, Professor in the Department of Religion at Rutgers University, wrote in a Dec. 4, 2002 article titled "Using Military Force against the Saddam Hussein Regime: The Moral Issues" on the Foreign Policy Research Institute website:

"The UN Security Council resolutions have been flagrantly, and so far with impunity, violated by the Iraqi regime. The U.S. and its allies should have been willing to fight a just war over this issue years ago...

This line of reasoning offers the most straightforward international law justification for using military force against the Saddam Hussein regime... The deliberate violation of the 1991 truce by Saddam Hussein’s regime in principle has reopened the Gulf War and justifies resumed military action against the regime. Whether it is prudent to do so is another matter, but the question of justification is not at all doubtful under traditional just war reasoning."

Dec. 4, 2002 - James Turner Johnson, PhD 

Peter Goldsmith, QC, PC, Attorney General of the UK at the time of the quote, stated in a Mar. 7, 2003 article titled "Legal Basis for Use of Force Against Iraq" on the Office of the Prime Minister's website:

"Authority to use force against Iraq exists from the combined effect of resolutions 678, 687 and 1441. All of these resolutions were adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter which allows the use of force for the express purpose of restoring international peace and security:...

3. A material breach of resolution 687 revives the authority to use force under resolution 678.

4. In resolution 1441 the Security Council determined that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of resolution 687, because it has not fully complied with its obligations to disarm under that resolution.

5. The Security Council in resolution 1441 gave Iraq "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" and warned Iraq of the "serious consequences" if it did not.

6. The Security Council also decided in resolution 1441 that, if Iraq failed at any time to comply with and cooperate fully in the implementation of resolution 1441, that would constitute a further material breach.

7. It is plain that Iraq has failed so to comply and therefore Iraq was at the time of resolution 1441 and continues to be in material breach.

8. Thus, the authority to use force under resolution 678 has revived and so continues today."

Mar. 7, 2003 - Peter Goldsmith, QC, PC 

CON (no)

Dennis Kucinich, MA, a member of the US House of Representatives (D-OH), stated in an Oct. 3, 2002 speech on the House floor:

"...[W]hat the American people need to know is that the U.N. Charter, and we participate in the United Nations, we helped form the United Nations, we helped set up this international framework of law that is represented by the United Nations, that the United Nations Charter forbids all Member nations, including the United States, from unilaterally enforcing U.N. resolutions.

We cannot do this on our own. We cannot decide that some nation is in violation of U.N. resolutions and we take it upon ourselves to render justice."

Oct. 3, 2002 - Dennis Kucinich, MA 

Charles Peña, MA, Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, wrote in a Dec. 15, 2003 artice titled "Iraq: The Wrong War" on www.cato.org:

"President Bush asserts that U.S. military action against Iraq was justified because Saddam Hussein was in material breach of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441. But even if Iraq was in violation of a UN resolution, the U.S. military does not exist to enforce UN mandates. It exists to defend the United States: its territorial integrity and national sovereignty, the population, and the liberties that underlie the American way of life. So whether Iraq was in violation of Resolution 1441 is irrelevant."

Dec. 15, 2003 - Charles Peña, MA 

"The United Nations Charter and the Use of Force Against Iraq," a report written on Oct. 2, 2002 by John Burroughs, Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP), Peter Weiss, President of LCNP, Andrew Lichterman, Program Director of the Western States Legal Foundation (WSLF), Jacqueline Cabasso, Executive Director of WSLF, Michael Ratner, President of the Center on Constitutional Rights, and Jules Lobel, Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and available on lcnp.org, stated:

"Any claim that 'material breach' of cease fire obligations by Iraq justifies use of force by the United States is unavailing. The Gulf War was a Security Council authorized action, not a state versus state conflict; accordingly, it is for the Security Council to determine whether there has been a material breach and whether such breach requires renewed use of force...

Under the UN Charter, there are only two circumstances in which the use of force is permissible: in collective or individual self-defense against an actual or imminent armed attack; and when the Security Council has directed or authorized use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security. Neither of those circumstances now exist. Absent one of them, U.S. use of force against Iraq is unlawful."

Oct. 2, 2002 - The United Nations Charter and the Use of Force Against Iraq (100 KB)  

Stephen Zunes, PhD, Chair of the Middle Eastern Studies Program at the University of San Francisco, in a Feb. 28, 2008 CommonDreams.org article titled "Why Hillary Clinton's Iraq Vote Does Matter," wrote:

"...[I]n articles 41 and 42 of the UN Charter, the nations of the world agreed that no member state has the right to enforce any resolution militarily unless the Security Council determines that there has been a material breach of its resolution, decides that all non-military means of enforcement have been exhausted, and specifically authorizes the use of military force...

Legally, the conflict regarding access for UN inspectors and possible Iraqi procurement of 'weapons of mass destruction' (WMDs) had always been between Iraq and the United Nations, not between Iraq and the United States. The United States therefore had no legal right to act on the dispute unilaterally. Although UN Security Council Resolution 687, which demands Iraqi disarmament, was the most detailed in the world body’s history, no military enforcement mechanisms were included."

Feb. 28, 2008 - Stephen Zunes, PhD 

Kofi Annan, MS, UN Secretary-General at the time of the quote, stated in a Sep. 16, 2004 interview titled "Excerpts: Annan Interview" with BBC journalist Owen Bennett-Jones on news.bbc.co.uk:

"[Owen Bennett-Jones] (Q): Do you think that the resolution that was passed on Iraq before the war did actually give legal authority to do what was done?

Kofi Annan (A): Well, I'm one of those who believe that there should have been a second resolution because the Security Council indicated that if Iraq did not comply there will be consequences. But then it was up to the Security Council to approve or determine what those consequences should be.

Q: So you don't think there was legal authority for the war?

A: I have stated clearly that it was not in conformity with the Security Council - with the UN Charter.

Q: It was illegal?

A: Yes, if you wish.

Q: It was illegal?

A: Yes, I have indicated it is not in conformity with the UN Charter, from our point of view and from the Charter point of view it was illegal."

Sep. 16, 2004 - Kofi Annan, MS