Postscript on "The Serious Consequences of Word Games": The Signaling Game around the "Final Opportunity" of Security Council Resolution 1441

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German Law Journal. Volume 11, Number 8 (2010), p. 943-963.


Iraq; Resolution 1441; Security Council Resolution; UN; War


This essay is intended to be read as a supplement to the article “Iraq and the Serious Consequences of Word Games: Language, Violence and Responsibility in the Security Council,” which was published in the German Law Journal in 2002. The date of publication of the 2002 article (1 November) was exactly one week before the Security Council voted on Resolution 1441 (8 November). Resolution 1441 subsequently became (and has remained) the site of interpretative debate on the question of whether states, notably the US and the UK, needed express authorization in a new (post-Resolution 1441) Security Council resolution in order for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 to have been lawful. As the original essay was able to take into account the evolution of negotiations only up to 28 October 2002, before going to press, the present essay continues the narrative by tracing the trajectory of Resolution 1441’s textual language from the provisions of the first US–UK draft (of October 21, 2002) to the final form that Security Council Resolution 1441 took when adopted on 8 November 2002. The article also digests, primarily by way of two charts, the positions taken by key States on the meaning of Resolution 1441 after its adoption. The focus is the explanation of vote by each of the 15 Security Council members as well as two collective statements by France and Russia, joined by China in one case and by Germany in the second case. As noted briefly in the article, the normative politics of word games identified in the original and the present German Law Journal article is relevant, inter alia, to any legal analysis that the UK Iraq Inquiry may carry out as part of its eventual report of the involvement of the UK in the war.

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