The inquiry was drawn into a detailed discussion on a number of key words and phrases which played central role in Lord Goldsmith's argument that there was ...
The inquiry was drawn into a detailed discussion on a number of key words and phrases which played central role in Lord Goldsmith's argument that there was a legal basis for the war.
'The revival argument'
Whether UN security council resolution 1441 triggered the authority contained in earlier UN resolutions, including resolution 678 passed in 1990 following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. If that authority was revived, then the use of force would be lawful to "restore international peace and security in the area".
'A material breach'
The key test, potentially triggering revival and authorising military action. Whether Iraq was in "material breach" of resolution 1441 was a question of fact, Goldsmith said, and a decision for his "clients, notably Tony Blair. If such a breach were found it could terminate the ceasefire and revive the authorisation for the use of force.
'Consider' v 'decide'
Terms referring to any role the security council would have before an invasion. "Consider" was the term was preferred by the US and the UK on the basis that if Saddam Hussein was in material breach, the security council would not necessarily get the final say on whether there should be military action. Instead there would merely get the chance to "consider" it. The much stronger term pushed by France and other countries and in effect by senior legal advisers in the Foreign Office is "decide", effectively giving the security council a veto over further military action. George Bush had made it clear the US drew a "red line" over that possibility.
'A reasonable case'
The criterion on which Goldsmith based his advice that the war was lawful, based on jurisprudence from the Nato military action in Kosovo, where it was held that the legal test was whether there was a "reasonable case".
At one point Goldsmith described it as a case "you are content to argue if it came to court it would have a reasonable chance of success." He added: "It is not making the judgment whether it is right or wrong."
The usual code for the use of military force by UN member states is that they are entitled to use "all necessary means" to respond to state actions which violate previous resolutions. But resolution 1441 states that a failure by Iraq to comply with the terms would have "serious consequences" instead. Goldsmith insists that despite the negotiations over the use of the two terms, he understood the two phrases to be "saying the same thing".