Despite the efforts of the UN and several states, the US government appears decided to solve the Iraqi case by military action, thus disregarding the results of the UN inspections and the serious objections of many people, institutions and governments all over the world. Even if the inspectors verified the possession by Iraq of armaments of a kind that could objectively be considered a threat to world security, there are other ways of disarming than mass bombing and warfare. The authority of the UN would be further undermined, and to unleash a war would certainly cause even more death, misery and desperation to an already oppressed people. I know well that predictions about the course of a war are very seldom accomplished, but it always guarantees more suffering, torture and inhuman behaviour.
Despite the disinformation campaigns, the great majority of world public opinion sees preventive war as inadmissible, and a contravention of universal principles of justice. War will not help build a more peaceful and democratic, a freer and safer world.
At this time, it is vital to combine efforts and voices in order to identify and work towards a remedy for the factors that have led to the current situation. In order to bring about a radical change in current unilateral tendencies, there is a need to consolidate an ethical and legal framework that can offer the world's peoples hope of human dignity on a global scale, in a multilateral context.
To this end, I believe that the UN system needs to be fortified and democratised in order to perform fully the functions entrusted to it in the Charter. The G8 superpowers have demonstrated their inability to achieve world governance: multilateralism appears again indispensable. There is an urgent need to establish codes of conduct that guarantee its fulfilment by the states and supranational public and private bodies; to achieve the ratification of the statute of the International Criminal Court by all countries; to hold a General Assembly on peace, justice and security, in order to establish legal and ethical frameworks and punitive mechanisms for transgressors, and thus reduce the possibilities of violent action for isolated fanatical terrorist groups and to increase international cooperation promises. More than 30,000 human beings die every day of hunger and lack of access to basic health services. That is our only combat, our first objective - to avoid the “silent genocide” whose misery lies at the roots of radicalisation and violence.
It is not war but international justice and well-coordinated international cooperation that will substantially reduce many imbalances on a global scale and will lay the foundations for just and lasting peace.
© Federico Mayor 2003
Originally published as part of a debate on 6th February 2003 Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. II