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UK PM defends legality of Iraq invasion

[JURIST] UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown [official profile] testified [video] to the Iraq Inquiry [official website] on Friday that he remains convinced that the decision to participate in the 2003 Iraq invasion was the appropriate course of action. Brown discussed his approval of military funding while serving as head of the Treasury [official website] during the invasion as well as his later actions as prime minister. He stated that in the former capacity, he received information from intelligence agents that he deemed credible and "led [him] to believe that Iraq was a threat that had to be dealt with." Brown explained that Saddam Hussein's refusal to comply with UN directives necessitated a response from the international community:

I believe we made the right decision for the right reasons, because the international community had for years asked Saddam Hussein to abide by international law and the international obligations that he had accepted. Fourteen resolutions were passed by the United Nations, and at the end of the day, it was impossible to persuade him that he should abide by international law. Now my feeling is and still is that we cannot have an international community that works if we have either terrorists who are breaking these rules or, in this case, aggressor states that refuse to obey the laws of the international community.

Brown also outlined three primary "lessons" from the invasion, stressing the importance of "proper structures of decision making," securing a "just peace," and increasing international cooperation in any future interventions.

Last month, former UK Foreign Ministry secretary Jack Straw [parliamentary profile] testified [JURIST report] that he did not ignore legal advice that the invasion of Iraq lacked basis in international law. Former chief legal adviser to the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) [official website] Sir Michael Wood [UN profile, PDF] told the Iraq Inquiry in January that he had advised the Foreign Ministry that the invasion was illegal [JURIST report]. Wood testified that the invasion was "contrary to international law" because it was never authorized by the UN Security Council [official website], and that Straw had rejected his advice at the time. Earlier in January, the Iraq Inquiry released [JURIST report] a 2002 letter [text, PDF] from Goldsmith to former secretary of defense Geoffrey Hoon [personal profile] in which he warned the Cabinet that the Iraq invasion was not supported by international law. Former UK prime minister Tony Blair [official profile; JURIST news archive] is also facing criticism over the legality of the Iraq War. In testimony to the Iraq Inquiry, former UK international development secretary Clare Short said that Blair was "misleading" and "deceitful" [JURIST report] with the Cabinet and parliament regarding the Iraq invasion.

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