Annan says war without UN sanction illegitimate

11 March 2003
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 10 March warned that the UN charter would be violated if the US and UK were to go to war against Iraq having lost a vote on a second resolution. Speaking in The Hague, Annan told reporters: 'The members of the Security Council now face a great choice. If they fail to agree on a common position and action is taken without the authority of the Security Council, the legitimacy and support for any such action will be seriously impaired -If the US and others were to go outside the Council and take military action, it would not be in conformity with the charter.' The remarks were widely interpreted as an appeal to the US not to force a vote on a new resolution unless it is certain of gaining majority support. Annan's comments immediately provoked a debate about the legality of any military action if a second resolution specifically authorising it were to fail. White House officials argued that force was already legitimised by earlier resolutions, and spokesman Ari Fleischer said that 'from a moral point of view,' the UN would be failing in its duty if it opposed military action. He invoked the examples of Kosovo and Rwanda to illustrate the dangers of holding back from using military force for the greater good.

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