No Fly Zones: Discussion of UN Role and International Law


Let’s imagine that the government of Germany decided that all of the German people need to die by the end of the month and the government passes a decree that all Germans shall ingest a poison voluntarily or forcibly by that time and measures are taken to enforce this decree.

Naturally, there are a few Germans who are not too keen on following this decree.

Do you believe that international law would prohibit foreign states from intervening in this sovereign German matter based on humanitarian grounds? Or, do you believe, as Rascal seems to be asserting, that such intervention in Germany’s sovereign affairs would be illegal?


I’m not knowledgeable in international law so I don’t know if foreign intervention to save lives in Germany would be “legal.” My understanding though is that international law is still too much in flux because of the countervailing forces of national sovereignty to be clearly settled law yet.

I believe it would be ethical and right though for another nation to intervene to save the lives of German citizens in such a case. For that reason, I believe the no-fly zones were ethical and just limitations on Iraqi sovereignty. The essential aim of the no-fly zones was to protect Kurdish and Marsh Arab civilians from Saddam’s brutality and, so, were sound examples of long-accepted norms of just war.

Is it possible that you repond to an argument without making up shit?

You nearly had me convinced, wouldn’t it be for the fact that the US only seems to “follow” this obligation where it makes a good excuse for justifying their illegal actions.

Now please explain where the no-fly zones relate to ‘self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations’, otherwise we have to assume that the argument is not applicable.

And BTW: when did the laws change (as you claim)? Before or after the no-fly zones were established?

Stick to the topic and look at the quote by Kofi about the US invasion of Iraq and then let’s see what you still have to say, haha.

Hmmm. Are you saying now that you believe that genocide and mass murder and repression should be disallowed? If yes, on what law do you base your new assertion?

What illegal actions?

Please cite the law that states that the US was not permitted to act in the way that it did.

Rascal, it is well understood that the notion of “self-defense” includes the notion of defending others. Moreover, I have already shown you that international law has evolved to the point that the protection of human rights is now explicitly stipulated in several international conventions, including the UN Charter, and I have further shown that this new concept of the law of human rights is now prevailing over traditional notions of state sovereignty.

I really do not know what additional information you require.

It isn’t simply a change that I claim. I cited the various international conventions that codify this change. As stated, the change was gradual and evolutionary… but, it certainly took place prior to the start of the no-fly zone measures.


OH Rascal? Where is Rascal?

I would like answers to the following questions:

  1. What do you think of the verdict of the UN Commission on Kosovo stating that the action was “illegal” but “legitimate and justified?” How do you think that relates to Iraq? Don’t you think that based on the principles of international law or any law for that matter that this in fact is setting a precedent?

  2. What sovereignty are you willing to see Germany and France surrender to the UN?

  3. If the UN commanded that Germany supply 30,000 troops and $5 billion and this was against Germany’s “peaceful constitution,” what would you say?

  4. How was that process that led you to believe that Saddam had wmds, were “quite sure actually” any different from the process that led important world leaders to come to the same conclusion?

I have no doubt that you will continue to refuse to answer. This is your modus operandi whenever you are painted into a corner. Not very sportsmanlike. You challenge others but when others challenge you and score points, you merely ignore the questions. Ah well…

You are right, fred, I will refuse to answer - but not for the reason you claim: to the question if the no-fly zones were illegal (or not) it is irrelevant what has been said about Kosovo, what are the consequences of not having no-fly zones, what are my (moral) views and most if not all the other things you bring up that don’t directly relate to the question itself. Talk about modus-operandi.
In fact the question if the no-fly zones were illegal can be answered without touching on any of those issues, and unless you make an effort to focus on that question alone there is nothing more to discuss.

I however appreciate the effort made by Tigerman where he cited the article to make his point though I still disagree on the grounds that a) the article is way too general, b) its not a codification, c) the conflict with other intl. laws is not addressed and d) that he fails to relate self-defense to the no-fly zones as it (the self-defense) is defined in the article he quoted, see also further below.
I agree that self-defense can be applied to others (generally) but you still ignore the qualifiers in the article, i.e. that an armed attack must occur and that a member of the UN is being attacked.

UN Charter Chapter I Article 3 Paragraph 4.:

Obviously the US/UK did threaten the territorial integrity or Iraq. Now there are exceptions where this may be allowed, but it does not apply for the no-fly zones as shown in the following quotes/argumentation:

UN Charter Chapter I Article 3 Paragraph 7.:

UN Charter Chapter VII Article 39

Given the fact that the UNSC did not call for no-fly zones or other military action (else produce the corresponding resolution) the US/UK are clearly in breach of this, hence their actions were illegal under international law.

Please cite the codifications directly from the source, the article doesn’t provide any exact quotes.

Quoting UNSC Resolution 688 is “nice” but it seems that you have forgotten about UN Charter Chapter VII Article 39 (quoted above) which says that the SC will decide on the measures to be taken.
Since UNSC resolution 688 itself does not call for any military measures (which would include establishing no-fly zones) the ‘contribution to these humanitarian relief efforts’ called for in paragraph 6. can only be referring to the measures stated in paragraph 2. to 5.

Needless to say that interpreting ‘promoting and encouraging human rights’ as the right to violate the territorial integrity of souvereign states by means of military action is stretching it beyond common sense.
If that would be correct one could argue that military attacks against US bases where ‘unlawful combatants’ are held, abused and tortured would also serve the purpose of ‘promoting and encouraging human rights’, prevaling over any laws that actually protect such places. Would you agree with that?

So you are the one who arbitrarily gets to decide that we will ONLY talk about the legality of the no-fly zones? Interesting. I thought this debate was about much more.

Anyway, I know that you cannot answer or argue against the precedent set by the action in Kosovo or you would. Best to keep silent then.

I expect that if you disagree with my argument you argue against it, preferably with some facts, and that you stay focused. Instead you have been avoiding said issue right from the beginning; just look at your first reponse - briefly mentions the word no-fly zones and in the same breath starts to go on about weapons sale by Germany to China. Then you ask me to explain why I think they were illegal and you go on about Nuremberg, oil for food scandal, Rwanda, France etc. - yeah, there is so much more to discuss but it just doesn’t relate.
Sorry fred, but with this kind of modus operandi I believe I have the right to refuse to answer such questions, not for deciding what we talk about, but to avoid that the initial issue get’s pushed aside.
Needless to say I can’t help the feeling that this might be the actual intention of this whole charade.

That’s thick - maybe you make an effort to show us why the no-fly zones were not illegal before giving such advise.
Besides, you wanted to play with Kofi-quotes and got one that was spot on, overruling any precedent you think that had been set.
And since, by your own argumentation, his statements are to be considered as a valid and final word on things then you must also agree with him that the war against Iraq was illegal, i.e. in violation of internation law and the UN charter.

[quote=“Rascal”]UN Charter Chapter I Article 3 Paragraph 4.:

One of the explicit Purposes of the UN, as stipulated in its Charter, is the protection of the human rights of all peoples. The UNSC Resolution 688 directly called for Member states to assist in stopping the attack on human rights in Iraq. That Resolution also explicitly stated that the no-fly zones were not an insult to Iraqi territorial integrity. Moreover, Iraq was under a sort of parole, vis a vis the cease fire agreement. In such situation, the no-fly zone was effective and appropriate and I believe legal.

You can cite the UN Charter and resolutions all you want to show that the UN reserved for itself the right to decide certain issues. Nonetheless, the fact remains that were (and when) such issues are left to the UN to decide, genocide is usually the result.

If that’s what you prefer… well, then you can keep arguing that the no-fly zone was illegal. I think the crime rather would have been allowing Saddam to use his helicopter gun ships to massacre helpless women and children on the ground.

But, hey. You like the UN. I bet your argument would go real well with the folks in Rwanda who lost family there a few years ago.

You just don’t get it, do you?

There is no static international law. It is nothing but a bunch of notions that are sometimes agreed upon and other times not. With the exception of a few conventions, which work only to varying degrees of success, there is no body that arbitrates consistently on “international law”.

The argument, while interesting, is largely moot.

You, however, seem to think that there is actually some tribunal that could actually convict the US.

Answer me this:

If the US invasion of Iraq really did violate international law… why is the US not being prosecuted for such violation?

Well since I cannot find the legality of no-fly zones in this particular thread’s title and since it does not appear to be the subject of interest at the start of this thread, I suggest if that is the narrow focus of your interest, that you do your job as moderator and split this off to form a new thread. Then, we would all be on the same page wouldn’t we and we would all know what we did or did not want to talk about.

As to any other posters (not Rascal), don’t you find it interesting that the UN has found the Kosovo action illegal but legitimate and justified. I would be very curious to hear how then the Iraq action could be viewed in a different light. Given that this in fact set a precedent, could we not argue from the point of view of standard international law that the dangerous precededent was not set by Bush but by Clinton in 1999 with the tacit approval of Kofi Annan?

I for one agree with you that the issue of the UN’s stance re Kosovo is relevant to the issue at hand (Iraq and no-fly zones) and the fact that the UN stated one was illegal but legitimate but decided different on the other only illustrates a double standard.

Its not surprizing that some think that such double standards are acceptable and feel no need to even consider the same or entertain questions re the same. :smiley:

Thank you Tigerman. I also see that the UN had no problem copying certain elements of the no-fly zones when it established the “safe havens” in Bosnia. What then is the difference between these? Hmmm? I for one see no difference. I merely see a UN with officials who got their fingers caught in the cookie jar and who were very resentful of having the gravy train come to a halt. (ooh that is almost MFGResque).

What the resolution calls for is spelled out in the resolution - I don’t see military action or no-fly zones mentioned but perhaps you can point it out for all of us to see? Or is it just some idea of what ‘humanitarian relief efforts’ could mean? Is it perhaps only your own interpretation of the same?

You are confusing the reason for the argument if the no-fly zones are illegal with my personal views and project your (wrongly) perceived reason for making the argument on different situations.
Rwanda (Germany, oil-for-food scandal etc.) has nothing to do with the no-fly zones as I already indicated nor did I touch on that or consider it relevant to the issue at hand (that’s the no-fly zones) - so maybe this is one of those arguments thrown in to sidetrack and avoid the actual issue.
Or was it perhaps an intentional attempt of a personal attack? Wouldn’t be the first time that people make up shit to smear other posters and throw in such accusations, evidently a tactic often used by some on the right.
Well, I guess certain people just can’t let go and not leave those things out of the discussions.

[quote]There is no static international law. It is nothing but a bunch of notions that are sometimes agreed upon and other times not. With the exception of a few conventions, which work only to varying degrees of success, there is no body that arbitrates consistently on “international law”.

The argument, while interesting, is largely moot.[/quote]
The argument you quoted and referred to was addressed at fred, I called him on this argument as anyone should be able to see.
Maybe you should refrain from quoting selected bits and pieces only, perhaps than there is no danger that people misunderstand what I wrote and in what context the argument was made.

And, calling you on your own argument, if there is no such law than your earlier argument based on protection of human rights, where you cited the same law that you now claim does not exist, becomes invalid. Fine with me. :bravo:

[quote=“fred smith”]

As to any other posters (not Rascal), don’t you find it interesting that the UN has found the Kosovo action illegal but legitimate and justified. I would be very curious to hear how then the Iraq action could be viewed in a different light. Given that this in fact set a precedent, could we not argue from the point of view of standard international law that the dangerous precededent was not set by Bush but by Clinton in 1999 with the tacit approval of Kofi Annan?[/quote]

I think it’s interesting. How the hell can something be legitimate and justified but still illegal. If it is legitimate and justified then it should have been legal as well.

It does raise some other questions in my mind though. What was happening in Kosovo that was not happening in Iraq (if anything) to make the Kosovo action justified? If I understand things correctly, the UN has stated that the action in Iraq was also illegal and I assume that it has been deemed unjustified etc. For this to make sense there has to be some significant difference in the two situations or it’s just hypocritical.
Can anyone state what this significant difference(if any) was?

That’s what Rascal doesn’t understand. Laws change as circumstances change. Rascal clings to this old notion of pre-emptive war having only certain justifications and cannot see how changed circumstances have pushed a change in the notion of the law.


Sure. The UN was making bucketloads of dirty cash on the oil for food scam and was in cahoots with Saddam.

When the opponents of the war claim “it was all about oil”… they’re right… just not the way they think.

:laughing: I love how you think the words of the resolution should be strictly interpreted here… yet when the resolutions called for Saddam to IMMEDIATELY comply you think IMMEDIATELY means comply withing some uncertain, undefined period, perhaps six months after the demand is made. You’re too much, Rascal.

And yet another unrelated issue thrown in for good measure.

Besides, you surely do remember that I also argued in that case that the UNSC should decide if, when and what action to take? So yes, Saddam should have complied immediately, but that doesn’t do away with the fact that this is another fine example where the US bypassed the UN(SC) and then later invokes UN resolutions as justification for their actions.
Another hypocritical if not pathetic attempt to excuse another illegal action taken by the US. :stuck_out_tongue:

I think Gilgamesh that the confusion lies in the interpretation. Legal or illegal is what Rascal is most interested in since he is a black-and-white obsessed individual who merely wants to see things from one side (hee hee).

Notice though that the UN Commission on Kosovo found the action “legitimate and justified.” To my understanding, this is a perfect example of when a law no longer serves justice and therefore should be upgraded or discarded. According to the static law, it was not legal but the action did serve justice and therefore was legitimate. In my eyes, serving justice should be more important than serving the law, but then I, unlike some of my German ancestors, have always had a problem with “just following orders.” I want to know why. Perhaps, if more of my distinguished relatives had been inculcated with such an “American” view of the law, various tragedies could have been averted.

Remember too that Stalin and Hitler had a whole raft of various laws all of which were trumped up whenever needed to make whatever atrocity they were committing at the time “legal” but no matter how many “laws” they invented, the actions were never “legitimate” or “justified” and that I believe should be the true test of any legal act or code.

I agree with Tigerman. If the left were not so, come along and sing, you know the words… interested in engaging in mindless morally outraged posturing, it would realize the huge irony of its peace protests about no blood for oil or it’s all about oil. They would realize though that they, as Tigerman has said, were marching on the wrong side. It WAS about oil, but it was the UN in collusion with its corrupt partners in France, China and Russian among scumbags like Galloway that wanted to ensure that nothing changed. The irony is that the more we learn about how the UN was coopted, the more desperate posters like Rascal are to defend it. Why? I think it has more to do with an inability to admit that perhaps it was they and their positions that were wrong. This is also why the wmd angle gets played endlessly as well. We were not obligated to prove that Saddam had wmds, he was obligated to prove that he did not. Knowing full well that the US led action was “legitimate and justified” if not necessarily “legal,” these posters flail about desperately to put the onus on the other foot. It is, in their opinion, the US who is responsible for proving that Saddam had wmds and we did not. But according to the strict definition of the “laws” that they so obessively uphold, that was not the case. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. Either you interpret the laws strictly or you do not. If you do, then Saddam was obligated to prove that he did not, to prove that he was complying, he did not so the US had a “legitimate and justified” cause to seek his compliance including his removal from power to ensure that Iraq did not again become a threat to his neighbors.

The humanitarian aspect is a separate case but one that has strong precedents that would support similar action in Iraq based ONLY on the merits of protecting innocent people from a ruthless dictator like Saddam.

[quote=“Tigerman”]Answer me this:

If the US invasion of Iraq really did violate international law… why is the US not being prosecuted for such violation?[/quote]
I take it you are leading with this question, so answer me this: since when does the absence of a prosecution prove that there is no law or that no law has been violated? You of all here should know better.

And let’s use your approach for once: since you insist that we must read Bush speeches exactly as they are then we can expect that you also apply the same to UN resolutions etc., else you would be applying double-standards.
So, using your agrumentation and to prove that no-fly zones were legal, we can expect that there is a UN resolutions that explicitly mentions the term ‘no-fly’ zones. All you need to do is quote it.

I guess we don’t have to expect that you do also apply the same argument to all the places where the US holds ‘unlawful combatants’, detains them indefinite without access to legal advise, abuses and tortures them?