International law experts elaborate on violation of UN Charter in Gen. Soleimani assassination

January 10, 2021 - 11:28

TEHRAN - The second pre-session of the International Conference on International Law and Armed Conflicts in the region was held online on Wednesday, January 6.

At the conference, several prominent professors of international law expressed their views on regional issues, especially the assassination of Lt. General Qassem Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and their entourage near Baghdad’s international airport on January 3, 2020. 

University professor Dr. Hossein Navadeh Topchi, the former president of the National Defense University, Dr. Heibatollah Nejandi Manesh, a faculty member of Allameh Tabatabai University, and Dr. Mahmoud Khalil Jafar, a faculty member of Baghdad University, spoke at the conference.

Regarding Iran's response to the assassination of General Soleimani, al-Muhandis, and their entourage, Dr. Navadeh Topchi said: "The question is, since the formation of the nation-states, that is, since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, what process have they gone through to reach the existing system and the Charter of the United Nations? As we can see, the world order has changed in the past because of large-scale wars, as exemplified in the case of Westphalia and the Thirty Years' War in Europe, in which the governments and borders were established, sovereignty in the sense known today was shaped, and the formation of a modern state happened."

Topchi said the current world is based on Articles 1 and 2 of the UN Charter. 

"The system in which humanity is in today is derived from the Charter of the United Nations, which sets out the principles and goals in Articles 1 and 2. That is, the entire international community, international organizations, and the relations of governments and institutions are based on this Charter and Articles 1 and 2 thereof. Behaviors come in a variety of forms, including coexistence, cooperation, competition, debate, and conflict. Among these forms of relationship, the UN Charter and the World Order focus more on cooperation between counties. In other words, the United Nations is the basis for regulating and systematizing societies based on cooperation and friendly relations; and on this basis, principles have been proposed for it," Topchi explained. 

Regarding the state of Iran-U.S. relations, Topchi said: "The Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States of America do not have a political or hostile relationship that is within the framework of armed conflicts, but the operations that the United States of America has started with regard to the Islamic Republic of Iran are all a violation of the principles and goals of the UN Charter. In the early 1990s, Americans spoke of a doctrine in their military and defense strategies called the ‘doctrine of asymmetric warfare’. This doctrine is now the main strategy of the U.S."

In terms of the U.S. strategy in the region, the former president of the National Defense University of Iran also said: "It is important to note that the actions of the United States in the region do not fall within the legal framework of armed conflicts regulations. The first is that terrorism is not defined, but they call groups that they see fit, such as the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, which is a national and well-known body, a terrorist group. This is unprecedented in the world. No organized military organization that is accepted by the constitution of a country has ever been recognized as a terrorist group. The United States not only wants to fluidize the world order, but it also wants to shrink governments, and as they shrink, new systems will emerge, each with its own hierarchy."

General Soleimani, a legendary commander in the war against terrorists, especially Daesh, was on a diplomatic mission to Baghdad when he was targeted upon a direct order by U.S. President Donald Trump.

"About the main topic of this meeting, we can indicate a collection of breaches of international law on the scene, the first one of which is a violation of diplomatic law. The assassination of a special agent carrying a political message violates the 1961 Convention. Murder is a violation of the criminal law and the statute of the International Criminal Court in the field of crimes against humanity. The most important principle of human rights, which is the bedrock of social order and civilization, is the principle of loyalty which the U.S. has violated several times. A very clear of this violation was the withdrawal from the JCPOA by the U.S. government," the professor stated.

Dr. Nejandi Manesh then spoke about the issue of reactions to Iran's missile attack on the U.S. military base in western Iraq, saying: "There are a number of countries that have been directly affected by this, such as the United States, Iraq, and to some extent Iran, a country that has suffered from the previous action of the United States. The United States wrote a letter to the Security Council on January 8. A noteworthy point in this official U.S. letter to the Security Council was that it didn't raise the legal issues about Iran's action as much as experts expected. There was not any objection to the legitimacy of the missile attack. It was merely aimed to inform the Council, without pointing to the legal aspects of the issue. Experts must analyze this letter to understand what this legal silence means. The United States, although aware that the document was being registered in the United Nations as an official document and could take a legal stand by claiming Iran violated international law, it did not do so."

The professor said Iran answered that it had acted in accordance with its right to self-defense as stipulated in Article 51 of the UN Charter. 

"In a letter to the Security Council following the attack, Iran stated that it had acted in accordance with its inherent right to self-defense under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, and the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran have carried out a deliberate, calculated and proportionate response by targeting the American base in Iraq from which the attack on Martyr Soleimani took place. They claimed that the operation was meticulous. Those who drafted the letter had focused well on the legal burden of the words. After the representative of the Iraqi government writes a letter to the Security Council, on January 16, 2020, the Islamic Republic of Iran writes a letter in response to the Republic of Iraq, in which the contents of the first letter were mentioned. But it added a new point based on the fact that Martyr Soleimani was in Baghdad at the invitation of the Iraqi government. Prior to the attack on the Ain al-Assad base, the Islamic Republic of Iran informed the Iraqi government, stating that this legitimate action would only be against the U.S. military base" Professor Nejandi Manesh explained.

Dr. Mahmoud Khalil Jafar from Baghdad University also said: "The issue ahead is a complex one about the violation of international law. From various aspects, this one can be pointed out that the guest who arrived in Iraq had been invited officially, so one of the official and military leaders of Iraq had to be present to welcome him. Another issue which entails consideration is the fact that American forces stationed in Iraq have a set of duties officially set for them and they frequently commit crimes by violating this framework. In terms of proportion principle under international law, as it is considered by different subcategories of this science, Iran's reaction to the U.S. unlawful action should be studied."

He continued to explain that "Iran's reaction to what the U.S. had done, did meet the conditions of proportion principle under international law, in the sense that the Islamic Republic of Iran has targeted American military forces, and this briefly states that proportion conditions were met by the defending country. The main goal of the United States is to weaken the countries in the region and put those weakened countries into war against each other. On the issue of Iran's missile attack on American military base in Iraq, proportionality conditions were met in the light of the fact that Iran only targeted the U.S. troops and no civilians were harmed during this incident."


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