IRAQ: LEGAL BASIS FOR THE USE OF FORCE
The legal basis for any military action against Iraq would be the authorisation which the Security Council, by its resolution 678 (1990), gave to Member States to use all necessary means to restore international peace and security in the area. That authorisation was suspended but not terminated by Security Council resolution (SCR) 687 (1991), and revived by SCR 1441 (2002). In SCR 1441, the Security Council has determined -
that Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) constitutes a threat to international peace and security;
that Iraq has failed - in clear violation of its legal obligations - to disarm; and
that, in consequence, Iraq is in material breach of the conditions for the ceasefire laid down by the Council in SCR 687 at the end of the hostilities in 1991, thus reviving the authorisation in SCR 678.
The extent of the authority to use force contained in SCR 678
Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter gives the Security Council the power to authorise States to take such military action as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security.
In the case of Iraq, the Security Council took such a step following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Paragraph 2 of SCR 678 authorised "Member States co- operating with the Government of Kuwait ... to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area." The phrase "all necessary means" was understood then (as it is now) as including the use of force.
Following the liberation of Kuwait, the Security Council adopted SCR 687. This resolution set out the steps which the Council required Iraq to take in order