The UK's Foreign Policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan

Written evidence from Chris Coverdale,

Campaign to Make Wars History

WAR OR PEACE - THE CHOICE IS YOURS

Executive summary

This submission sets out new evidence relating to Britain’s foreign policy in Afghanistan and concludes that it is unlawful, illegal, immoral and must be reconsidered.

We came to this conclusion after checking the extent to which Britain’s foreign policy meets, exceeds or falls short of our treaty commitments and legal obligations to the Afghan people. We found that:

· War is always illegal and the UN Security Council can never authorise the use of armed force;

· Britain has broken every one of our binding promises never to wage war, never to threaten or attack another state, never to harm or kill a person because of their nationality, to act peacefully, respect human rights, promote social progress, uphold and enforce the law and work together in a spirit of brotherhood and co-operation;

· By taking part in the illegal armed invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and causing or contributing to the deaths of 650,000 civilians, including 200,000 children, Britain’s armed forces broke the laws of war and committed genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, murder and a crime against peace;

· By commanding HM forces to take part in illegal armed attacks on targets in Afghanistan, Britain’s political, civil, judicial and military leaders broke the laws of war and are answerable for all the crimes committed by ISAF forces and are criminally liable to arrest prosecution and punishment under the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court Act 2001;

· The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Attorney General gave false legal advice to Parliament and the public on the legality of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan;

· Parliament and HM Armed Forces were deceived into believing that the wars with Iraq and Afghanistan were lawful and had been authorised by the UN Security Council.

Our recommendations are that the Foreign Affairs Committee:

· Carefully considers the validity of this new legal evidence;

· Contacts the Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister and ‘asks’ them to halt the fighting;

· Informs Parliament of the new evidence and tables an emergency debate to end the war;

· Sets up an independent inquiry (i) to investigate the causes and sources of the problem and (ii) to recommend new ways of ensuring that Britain upholds and enforces its treaty obligations.

"The charges in the indictment that the defendants planned and waged aggressive wars are charges of the utmost gravity. War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." Nuremburg War Crimes Trials 1946

Author

Chris Coverdale. Chris is a behavioural scientist, governance consultant, peace campaigner and memetic engineer. After 30 years working as an organisation development consultant he changed course in 1999 and focused on exposing the corrupt practice that causes Britain to violate international law and wage unlawful war. In 2008 he helped to found Make Wars History. His primary skills and interests are in cognitive science, memetics and the development of innovative governance systems and structures.

Aim and objectives

1. The aim of this report is to persuade the Foreign Affairs Committee and Parliament to stop the war and the killing in Afghanistan whilst it reconsiders the legality and purposes of the conflict.

2. We are also aiming to increase readers’ understanding of the laws of war and the illegality of the conflict in Afghanistan, expose the false nature of the legal advice provided by the FCO and Government lawyers, provide a simple way of checking the quality of foreign affairs and persuade MPs to reverse their decision to continue the war in Afghanistan. Our longer term intentions are to reform the UK’s systems structures and safeguards concerning war and peace.

Is Britain’s foreign policy towards Afghanistan appropriate?

3. To establish whether the UK’s foreign policy approach is appropriate we identified the principal treaties governing warfare and relationships between nations, picked out the main terms of each treaty and developed a check list to establish whether Britain has met, exceeded or fallen short of its commitments and obligations to other nations. We then listed the main components and achievements of Britain’s foreign policy in Afghanistan over the past nine years and compared them with the legally binding promises given to the Afghan people.

What are the principal treaties governing warfare?

4. The main treaties which govern warfare and the relationships between states are:

(i) The General Treaty for the Renunciation of War [the Kellogg-Briand Pact] 1928;

(ii) The United Nations Charter 1945;

(iii) The Genocide Convention 1948;

(iv) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948;

(v) The Geneva Conventions and Protocols 1949, 1977;

(vi) The Nuremburg Principles 1950;

(vii) The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court 1998 [RSICC].

What commitments and obligations do these treaties contain?

"War between nations was renounced by the signatories of the Kellogg-Briand Treaty. This means that it has become throughout practically the entire world an illegal thing. Hereafter, when nations engage in armed conflict, either one or both of them must be termed violators of this general treaty law. We denounce them as law breakers."

Henry Stimson, USA Secretary of State 1932

5. We collated the terms of these treaties into 15 main pledges relating to war and peace. Each pledge is a legally binding promise. Breaches of any of the first nine pledges are crimes in international law and render all those involved criminally liable for arrest, prosecution and punishment.

Nine pledges relating to War

(i) never to plan, initiate or take part in aggressive war;

(ii) never to support condone or fund aggressive war;

(iii) never to threaten, attack or occupy another State;

(iv) never to use armed force except in self-defence;

(v) never to take a human life or wilfully kill a person;

(vi) never to harm or kill a person because of their race, nationality, ethnicity or religion;

(vii) never to torture or inflict mental or physical harm on a person;

(viii) never to steal or destroy property;

(ix) never to manufacture, possess, trade or use (prohibited) weapons;

Six pledges relating to Peace

(x) to settle all disputes peacefully whatever their nature or origin;

(xi) to uphold and abide by the law;

(xii) to enforce the laws of war (arrest and prosecute war criminals);

(xiii) to respect human rights;

(xiv) to promote social progress and better standards of life for all;

(xv) to work together in a spirit of brotherhood and co-operation for peace and justice.

What are the main components of Britain’s Afghanistan policy?

6. The current phase of Britain’s foreign policy towards Afghanistan began on October 7th 2001 when the British Government switched from peace to war and Tony Blair announced that at the request of George Bush British forces were using submarine launched missiles to attack targets in Afghanistan. Since then the main components and achievements of the policy have been:

(i) The illegal use of disproportionate overwhelming armed force;

(ii) The illegal invasion and occupation of an independent nation state;

(iii) The illegal use of indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction [missiles, rockets, drones, cluster bombs, mortars, white phosphorous and depleted uranium] against civilian targets;

(iv) The murder of approximately 650,000 civilians, including 200,000 children;

(v) Serious injuries to approximately 1.5m men, women and children;

(vi) Driving 4m people into exile and destitution internally and in neighbouring states;

(vii) The removal of the legitimate Taliban Government;

(viii) Installing the US friendly Karzai [puppet] Government;

(ix) Huge cash payments to gain warlord support for the Karzai Government;

(x) An eight fold increase in opium production;

(xi) Expensive corruption-plagued attempts to elect a nominal Parliament;

(xii) Recruiting, training, equipping army and police forces to support the Karzai Government;

(xiii) Widespread increases in bribery and corruption;

(xiv) A ninety fold increase in expenditure over the previous decade;

(xv) FCO propaganda to justify the illegal and unlawful actions of the UK Government;

(xvi) Manipulation of UNSC resolutions to justify the illegal occupation by NATO forces;

(xvii) 335 UK service personnel killed, 5000 seriously injured / maimed, 20,000 mentally injured.

How does our performance in Afghanistan accord with our treaty obligations?

7. By comparing Britain’s performance in Afghanistan with the terms of each treaty we were able to make a broad brush assessment of the degree to which we had upheld our promises to the Afghan people.

Have we fulfilled our obligation never to wage war?

8. No. War was outlawed in 1928 by the General Treaty for the Renunciation of War [Kellogg-Briand Pact]. Sixty three nations, including Britain, America and Afghanistan, ratified the Pact condemning recourse to war and agreeing to settle all disputes peacefully whatever their nature or origin.

ARTICLE I The High Contracting Parties solemnly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.

ARTICLE II The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means. Kellogg-Briand Pact 1928

9. This treaty, which is still in force, formed the legal basis for the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials in 1946. When the judges convicted and hanged Germany’s political, civil and military leaders for breaching the terms of this binding treaty, they set an important precedent. In future, any person in a position of authority, such as a Head of State, Member of Parliament, military commander or Government official, who breaches this treaty and plans, supports or takes part in a war of aggression commits an offence and is criminally liable for punishment for crimes against peace and humanity.

"After the signing of the Pact, any nation resorting to war as an instrument of national policy breaks the Pact. In the opinion of the Tribunal, the solemn renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy necessarily involves the proposition that such war is illegal in international law; and that those who plan and wage such a war with its inevitable and terrible consequences are committing a crime in so doing."

10. Britain’s forces have been waging war in Afghanistan since 2001, have contributed to the deaths of at least 650,000 Afghan civilians of whom 200,000 were children, have injured or maimed 1m people and have driven 4m into exile and destitution. As none of our victims had done anything to attack Britain or British interests, this atrocity violates the Kellogg-Briand Pact and constitutes a war of aggression.

Have we fulfilled our obligation never to threaten or attack Afghanistan?

11. No. The UN Charter is widely recognised as the world’s premier war law. When Britain signed and ratified the UN Charter in 1945 we made a binding agreement on behalf of the British people never to threaten or attack another member state and to settle all disputes peacefully.

2.3 All members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace, security and justice are not endangered.

2.4 All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations. Article 2 United Nations Charter 1945

12. On 7th October 2001 Tony Blair announced that we were using missiles to attack targets in Afghanistan.

"As you will know from the announcement by President Bush military action against targets inside Afghanistan has begun. I can confirm that UK forces are engaged in this action… it is more than two weeks since an ultimatum was delivered to the Taliban to yield up the terrorists or face the consequences… The military action we are taking will be targeted against places we know to be involved in the operation of terror or against the military apparatus of the Taliban. This military plan has been put together mindful of our determination to do all we humanly can to avoid civilian casualties…

We have set the objectives to eradicate Osama bin Laden’s network of terror and to take action against the Taliban regime that is sponsoring it. As to the precise British involvement I can confirm that last Wednesday the US Government made a specific request that a number of UK military assets be used in the operation which has now begun. And I gave authority for these assets to be deployed… Missile firing submarines are in use tonight.

13. When Tony Blair said "it is more than two weeks since an ultimatum was delivered to the Taliban to yield up the terrorists or face the consequences" he confirmed that the UK and the US had violated the UN Charter by threatening the Taliban. By announcing that "Missile firing submarines are in use tonight" he also confirmed that British forces were attacking Afghanistan and, by using high-explosive indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction such as missiles, were setting out to cause thousands of casualties and widespread destruction. This was a deliberate policy to terrify the Afghan population into submission.

Have we fulfilled our obligation not to use armed force except in self-defence?

14. No. Claims by the UK and US Governments that the armed attacks on Afghanistan were taken in self-defence, and thus were authorised under Article 51 of the UN Charter, are bogus. The only time when a limited and proportionate use of armed force is lawful occurs when a nation is forced to defend itself from an armed attack by the forces of another state. Under Article 51 nations suffering an armed attack may use armed force to defend themselves, but only until the Security Council implements measures to resolve the conflict.

51. Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security.

15. As there is no evidence whatsoever that the Taliban Government of Afghanistan launched or supported the attacks on the World Trade Centre there is no lawful justification for the invasion or occupation of Afghanistan. As the Government and people of Afghanistan made no attempt whatsoever to attack Britain, there is not now and never has been a lawful justification for Britain’s participation in this war.

16. Under the UN Charter the only people authorised to use armed force in the Afghan conflict are the people of Afghanistan [the Taliban]. Under Article 51 they have the right to defend themselves from the unlawful invasion and occupation of their country by British, American and ISAF forces. If they notify the UN Security Council of the unlawful attacks they can lawfully continue to use armed force [rockets and IED’s] to repel ISAF forces until the UN Security Council implements peacekeeping measures.

How effective is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s contribution?

17. We believe that the main reason why so many British citizens hold the false belief that the UK’s use of armed force in Iraq and Afghanistan is lawful stems from the fact that for decades they have been given false and misleading legal advice on the use of armed force by Government and FCO lawyers.

18. To illustrate this serious deception consider the following statements taken from a letter written on 17th June 2009 on behalf of Bill Rammell, the FCO Minister, and Daniel Bethlehem the FCO legal advisor in which they again attempt to justify the legality of the wars with Afghanistan and Iraq.

" I should also like to add that under Article 24 of the United Nations Charter ‘its Members confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security’. Under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council may decide what measures shall be taken … to maintain or restore international peace and security". Under Article 25 "the members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter…

19. In the sentence the Council may decide what measures shall be taken … to maintain or restore international peace and security note the 3 small dots signifying that parts of Chapter VII have been left out. This is extremely important because the phrase that has been left out is not involving the use of armed force. Articles 41 and 42 from Chapter VII of the UN Charter state:

41 The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

42 Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 prove to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade and other operations by air, sea, or land forces.

20. By deliberately omitting one of the most important clauses in the UN Charter the FCO reversed the meaning of the Article and successfully deceived Parliament and the public into believing that the armed attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq were authorised by the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Nothing could be further from the truth. The use of armed force is always prohibited and violates the terms of the UN Charter. All actions by the Security Council must be non-violent.

21. The same letter includes the following statement:

While I appreciate your comments about the current situation in Afghanistan I can only reiterate here that the UK is in Afghanistan at the invitation of the democratically elected government of that country, operating along with the other partner nations under United Nations Security Council Resolution Nos 1386 (2001) and 1510 (2003)."

22. This is another blatant attempt by the FCO to falsify the facts. As Tony Blair’s announcement of October 7th 2001 made clear, Britain is fighting in Afghanistan at the invitation of George Bush NOT at the invitation of the democratically elected government of that country. The meeting of the UN Security Council, at which Resolution 1386 was passed, took place on December 20th, 10 weeks after Britain and America had attacked Afghanistan and after they had driven the legitimate Taliban Government out of Kabul. This was another attempt by Britain and America to justify this unlawful armed invasion and prepare the world to accept the installation of the illegitimate Karzai puppet government.

23. The FCO has had a central role in the planning and conduct of the illegal invasion and occupation of both Afghanistan and Iraq, and a central role in the multiple long term deceptions that have taken place to ensure that Parliament and the public support and endorse two of the worst atrocities in British history. Members of the FCO must be held to account for their repeated abuses of international law.

"As a citizen I regard it not only as a right but as a moral duty to help shape the destiny of my country, to uncover and oppose manifest evils. What I aimed to do was to rouse my students to an ethical understanding of the grave evils of our present political life; a return to definite ethical principles, to the rule of law, to mutual trust between man and man. This is not illegal rather it is the re-establishment of legality."

Professor Kurt Huber Munich University 1943 shortly before he was condemned to death for sedition.

What conclusions can we draw about Britain’s policy towards Afghanistan?

24. It is 100% American: We attacked Afghanistan in 2001 and have been at war ever since because George Bush asked Tony Blair for Britain’s help ostensibly to join the war on terror but in reality to remove the legitimate Taliban government and replace it with the US-friendly Karzai [puppet] government. Nothing about this action originated in UK foreign policy and nothing about it benefits Britain.

25. It is unlawful: This armed invasion and occupation of an independent nation state violates international law and all the treaties governing the use of armed force; in particular the Treaty for the Renunciation of War, the UN Charter, the Genocide Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, the Nuremburg Principles and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

26. It is criminal: The use of modern indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction in 40,000 attacks on densely populated undefended towns and cities causing the deaths of 650,000 civilians, including 200,000 children, injuring 1.5m and driving 4m into exile and destitution is the worst crime known to mankind. Under the laws of war it renders those responsible criminally liable to arrest and prosecution for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, murder and a crime against peace.

27. It is costly: Supplying and maintaining our armed forces to assist the illegitimate Karzai Government to maintain control of Afghanistan by brute force and corruption is 90 times more expensive than the previous peaceful lawful foreign policy, and is unsustainable. UK taxpayers have paid an average of £11,000 each since 2000 towards waging illegal wars and killing innocent people. They will rebel soon.

28. It is unpopular: Recent polls indicate that at least 76% of the UK electorate oppose the continuation of the armed conflict in Afghanistan. The only people we can find who believe that killing and injuring unarmed men, women and children is an appropriate lawful course of action are Government Ministers, MPs, Peers, military commanders, judges or civil servants who have little or nothing to lose.

29. It is disreputable: By breaching all the international treaties and laws governing relationships between States, Parliament has dealt a fatal blow to Britain’s international reputation for fair play, honesty and justice. We will soon have one of the least trustworthy and least trusted Governments on the planet.

30. It is immoral: Having promised the Afghan people that we would never wage war, never attack them, never harm or kill them, settle disputes peacefully, act lawfully and work together to mutual benefit, we broke our word and used missiles, cluster bombs, white phosphorous and depleted uranium to attack and kill thousands of men, women and children. This is one of the most immoral acts in British history.

31. It is evil: Not one of our victims had attacked or harmed us, was given the chance to defend themselves in court or was shown any mercy before they were intentionally shot, blown up, decapitated, disembowelled, dismembered or burnt to death by order of Parliament and the British Government. This atrocity will rank alongside those committed by Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot as an act of pure evil.

Recommendations

32. Carefully consider the validity of this new legal evidence. The legality or illegality of the conflict and the actions and omissions of the British Government can be confirmed by referring to the wording of treaties and checking the meaning carefully. To establish whether a person has committed a war crime refer to the offences listed in (i) the Nuremburg Principles, (ii) Article 25 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court or (iii) Sections 51 and 52 of the International Criminal Court Act 2001. It is inadvisable to take the word of the Attorney General, Government lawyers or FCO staff as they have deceived everyone over the legality of warfare and the use of armed force for years. If you speak to a lawyer be sure to get them to explain the grounds on which they base their advice.

33. Contact the Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister and ask them to halt the fighting. It is imperative that the needless unlawful killing is stopped immediately. It takes only a few minutes to give the orders to start a war and it takes even less time to command it to stop. The Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Defence Secretary all have the power to end or call a temporary halt to the killing within minutes, so remind them that every hour’s delay means further innocent lives lost and that no-one has the right to condemn an innocent person on either side of the conflict to death.

34. Inform Parliament of the new evidence and table an emergency debate to end the war. When Parliament voted recently to continue the conflict and fighting in Afghanistan it did so on the grounds that it was lawful. I hope that this document has shown that war is never lawful, that the only time when the use of armed force is condoned is when it is used in self-defence to counter an armed attack, that the legal advice from the FCO and Government lawyers was false and that nothing about the conflict in Afghanistan is or has ever been lawful. Providing that every MP is carefully briefed on the laws of war, together with its prohibitions and implications, prior to a new debate, it should be a formality to table, debate and vote on a motion to end the conflict.

35. Set up an independent inquiry (i) to investigate the causes and sources of the problem and (ii) to recommend new ways of ensuring that Britain upholds and enforces its treaty obligations. None of Blair’s wars would have been fought and no one would have been killed if the parliamentary and government systems for upholding treaties and enforcing the law had been working correctly. These atrocities could have been avoided if any member of the Government, any Member of Parliament or any law enforcement officer had at any time in the last nine years understood the laws of war and been prepared to enforce them. I suggest that Parliament [or the FAC] sets up an independent inquiry team of five to seven members to carry out five main tasks:

(1) To conduct an immediate investigation into the laws of war and their prohibitions. Ask the inquiry to report to Parliament within 2 weeks confirming the laws that govern warfare and the use of armed force together with their main requirements and prohibitions;

(2) Within 6 weeks to investigate and report on the false legal advice provided by government lawyers to Parliament, FAC, the armed forces and the public over the past 10 years;

(3) Within twelve weeks identify whether British citizens committed war crimes and offences against the laws of war in the past ten years, and if so, to identify which criminal offences were committed and who is liable for arrest and prosecution;

(4) Within four months to recommend to Parliament how best to organise and conduct criminal proceedings against all those British citizens responsible for criminal offences against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq;

(5) Within five months (i) identify the main systemic and structural faults in Government, Parliament and law enforcement authorities that cause Britain to renege on treaties and break international and domestic law. (ii) suggest systemic and structural changes to Britain’s system of Government to ensure that in future we meet all our commitments and obligations to the people and governments of other nations.

Are you willing to stop the killing - the choice is yours

For nine years Britain has been waging unlawful wars killing and injuring several million innocent Afghan and Iraqi civilians, including 1m children. These are the two worst atrocities in British history and yet no-one with the power to stop them has done so. This is a plea to every member of both Houses of Parliament to take action now and force the Government to uphold the law and end the killing.

5 October 2010

"and thus you are to act as though the destiny of human life hung solely from your deeds and you and you alone were accountable."

Adapted from J.G.Fichte

" If an injustice is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn. "

Henry D. Thoreau 1854


The Foreign Affairs Index

A check list to help MPs and the public establish the extent to which a nation has met, exceeded or fallen short of its legally binding treaty commitments and obligations to other nations.

Consider each statement in the Black List and award the points in brackets if the Government has broken that promise in the past twelve months. Only if you have awarded no Black List points move to the White list and award the points for each promise kept.

The Black List

Never to plan initiate or take part in aggressive war (40) ______

Never to support condone or fund aggressive war (20) ______

Never to threaten, attack or occupy another State (5) ______

Never to use armed force except in self-defence (5) ______

Never to take a human life or wilfully kill a person (5) ______

Never to harm a person because of their race, nationality or religion (10) ______

Never to torture or harm a person (5) ______

Never to steal or destroy property (5) ______

Never to manufacture possess trade or use (prohibited) weapons (5) ______

Total ______/100

The White List

To settle all disputes peacefully whatever their nature or origin (30) ______

To uphold and abide by the law (30) ______

To enforce the laws of war (arrest and prosecute war criminals) (10) ______

To respect human rights (10) ______

To promote social progress and better standards of life (10) ______

To work together in a spirit of co-operation and brotherhood (10) ______

Total ______/100