Iraq on the Brink of Anarchy[:en]Iraq on the Brink of Anarchy

Lauri Tähtinen on EVAn Juniorikumppani, joka opiskelee viimeistä vuotta kansainvälisiä suhteita London School of Economics:ssa.

A few weeks ago (17 October 2003), the United Nations Security Council passed a unanimous resolution, bowing to the status quo in Iraq. Far and wide Anglo-American presence on the banks of Euphrates and Tigris will remain a fact of life for an indefinite period of time. These circumstances should be accepted as facts of life, even if hesitantly by many, for future undertakings to be planned accordingly.

Present-day Iraq quivers on the brink of anarchy. New approaches are needed if the international community wants to move beyond lamenting the absence of either large-scale UN involvement or meaningful Iraqi sovereignty. If the French-led anti-war camp is unwilling to accept reality, the price will be paid in Iraqi blood. While ‘the West’ struggles to come to terms with itself violence and lawlessness lingers in Iraq.

How then to protect the human rights of Iraqis as promptly as possible? Professor Brian Simpson from the University of Michigan Law School, a fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the British academy addressed the issue during a public lecture at the London School of Economics (15/10/2003). Most essentially, the jurisdictional vacuum in Iraq should be seen as a great hazard. In his analysis, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms could serve to guard Iraqi Civilians in the areas under British occupation, thus consequently allowing for wider accountability. The case for the majority of the country is more complex for the US is clearly not a signatory of the aforementioned treaty. Surely though, the temporary presence of foreign law should be better than having no law at all.

Prior to the war, the protection of human rights was one of the most pronounced arguments, being put forward in favour of toppling Saddam’s regime. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, especially, was very eloquent in this line of reasoning. Respecting state sovereignty was its adversary in the formulation of international legal arguments. Now that the latter argument has lost, all adherents to liberal democratic values would be wise in turning towards finding an immediate solution to the former.

Debating the long-term effects of so-called ‘neo-imperialism’ is quite charming in Parisian cafés, London pubs or New York coffee shops. The dilemmas in the streets of Baghdad are more tangible – those of basic security and hope for the future. The burden of our differences, or indifferences, should not fall on frail Iraqi shoulders.