The Gulf War and International Law

5 July 1992

The 25th Triennial Congress of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 1-6 July 1992 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia:

Before, during and after the Gulf War, there were and continue to be serious violations of international law.

There are legal and binding international instruments regarding war under which the parties to them are accountable for their actions. These include the Charter of the Nuremburg tribunal, the Geneva and Hague Conventions and Protocols, and also the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Conventions on Civil and Political, and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

These instruments contain prohibitions against inflicting harm on civilian populations, prohibitions against acts or threats of violence against civilian populations, against starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, against attacking or destroying installations indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, against attacking installations which have the potential of releasing dangerous substance into the environment, against means of warfare which may cause damage to the natural environment and thereby prejudice the health or survival of the population, and against he use of excessive force.

In addition, there are international laws regarding the protection and basic rights of specific populations. These are stated in the 1974 General Assembly Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflicts and the 1990 Declaration of the World Summit on Children.

WILPF is concerned that the US and ‘allied’ forces have violated all of the above stated prohibitions in the bombing of Iraq. If we hold Iraq accountable for its invitation of Kuwait, the new must also hold the US accountable for its invasion of Panama and Grenada, and for violations of international law in Child, Nicaragua, Angola and other parts of the world.

If we oppose the use of force against a sovereign people, and if we condemn Iraq for the invitation of Kuwait, if we support UN security Council resolutions, and if we oppose occupation, then the same standards should be held to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and Lebanon, its defiance of SC Res. No. 2423 (1967) and SC Res. No. 338 (1973) and its violations of human rights and the Geneva and Hague Conventions. The Israeli government has consistently defied Security Council resolutions, yet continues to receive billions of dollars of US aid every year.

WILPF urges Individuals and organizations to press for:

A. Accountability for the actions of US and allied forces during the Gulf War with regard to violations of international law;

B. Recognition that to continue humanitarian sanctions against Iraq is a violation of the 1974 General Assembly Declaration and the Declaration of the World Summit on Children;

C. The health and survival of Iraqi children not to be linked to the behaviour of its government;

D. The application of a single standard of international law.