Labour counts

NEC Resolution on Iraq  28 January 2003 

The NEC endorses the Policy Commission update on Iraq agreed at the Britain in the World Policy Commission on 27 January 2003 [below]. 
The NEC meets this week at a crucial time in the relationship between Saddam Hussein and his regime in Iraq and the requirements of the international community as expressed through
United Nations resolutions. 
The NEC believes that the authority of the United Nations will be undermined, unless it is enforced and recognises that in the last resort this could involve military action. 
Accepting the widespread concern within the Labour Party and the country at large, the NEC confirms the position passed at Conference in Composite resolution 5 on Iraq where it stated that military action should be taken only in the last resort and within the context of international law and with the authority of the United Nations.
Policy Commission Update on Iraq
The Policy Commission discussed the Iraq issue at a meeting held in London on 27 January 2003.
In doing so, we noted our earlier discussion on this issue on 18th September 2002, the composite resolution agreed by Party Conference and the agreed statement by the NEC. We also heard from Ministers on the Commission about the subsequent developments, particularly the passage in November last year of UN Security Council resolution 1441.
In our statement agreed last September, the Commission said: “The Labour Government’s policy on Iraq has always been set firmly within the framework of United Nations and international law.”
As well as setting out the appalling human rights abuses under Saddam Hussein and international efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, we acknowledged that Iraq had flouted no less than nine separate UN Security Council resolutions aimed at disarming its weapons of mass destruction.
Our September statement added: “The Policy Commission supports the efforts by the international community to seek a new UN Security Council resolution to enforce compliance.”
It went on: “We hope that this issue can be resolved peacefully and note that no decisions regarding military action in Iraq have been made. We also understand the concerns within the Party and the rest of the country about the possibility of military action, which should only ever be used as a last resort. But the principles of international law can only be credible if they are enforced, and failure to do so can only undermine the authority of the UN itself.”
The NEC statement agreed on 29 September 2002 reaffirmed the Policy Commission’s position, and added: “The Government must therefore work within the UN to bring maximum pressure on Iraq by all available means to comply with its obligations under international
In supporting “Composite resolution 5 on Iraq” on the same day [actually 30 September 2002], Party Conference agreed that “Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq poses a serious threat to regional security and that of the wider world, as a result of his development
of weapons of mass destruction.”
Conference called on the international community “to make every effort through peaceful means to ensure Iraq complies with its international obligations” and added that “the authority of the UN will be undermined unless it is enforced, and recognises that in the last resort this could involve military action but considers that this should be taken within the context of international law and with the authority of the UN.”
Heeding the calls of the Party, the Government did pursue the UN route, and the subsequent unanimous approval of UN Security Council Resolution 1441, giving Saddam a “final opportunity” to comply with his international obligations was a particularly welcome
UNSCR 1441 sets out a series of conditions to ensure that Iraq complies with international law, and warns of “serious consequences” if it fails to do so. We strongly believe that UN
inspectors should be able to do an effective job in the pursuit of disarmament. We reaffirm our view that military action should be used only as a last resort, within the framework of the UN and in accordance with international law, and support the Prime Minister’s preference to see a second security council resolution to authorise any possible future military action.
We reaffirm the Commission’s and the NEC’s earlier statements on Iraq which stated our strong belief that the Government and other members of the international community should use this opportunity to redouble its efforts to bring peace and stability to the wider Middle
East region. In particular, we must restart the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians in line with existing UN Security Council resolutions based on the twin principles of an Israel secure within its borders, and a viable Palestinian state.