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War must be conducted lawfully - International Commission of Jurists

[JURIST] In a statement released Thursday, the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists said that now that war in Iraq has broken out, it must be conducted lawfully:

Now that the military attack has begun in earnest, it is imperative that States take care not to compound one unlawful action with others. All parties are obliged to follow the humanitarian and human rights prescriptions laid in out in the 1949 Geneva Conventions, other relevant international instruments and international customary law. In particular, the fact that Iraq has been illegally invaded in no way absolves it from scrupulously respecting international humanitarian law and human rights law. States which are not taking a part in the hostilities must benefit from, and themselves respect, the rules of neutrality. In particular, they may not allow their territory to be used for military purposes nor may they be made the object of attack.

Belligerents are obliged to treat humanely all persons in their power. They must not attack any persons surrendering. All parties to the conflict must take special care to distinguish between military objectives and civilian persons or objects. The latter may not be made a target of attack. The ICJ would like to stress that all States must scrupulously observe the rules prohibiting or limiting the use of certain weapons. No weapon that is excessively cruel or by nature indiscriminate may be used, even if it is not the object of a treaty prohibition. The ICJ is particularly concerned about reports that some parties may be contemplating using chemical agents. For those States party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, a strict interpretation is indispensable. In addition, the 1925 Geneva Protocol and customary law absolutely prohibit the use of chemical weapons.
Read the complete ICJ press release.

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