Frequently Asked Questions
Compiled by AARON MATÉ
What are the US-UK’s responsibilities as occupier of Iraq?
On May 22, 2003, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1483, abolishing sanctions against Iraq and recognizing the United States and United Kingdom as the country’s occupying powers. The resolution called upon the US-UK Authority to “comply fully with their obligations under international law, including in particular the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Hague Regulations of 1907.”
How has the CPA changed Iraq’s economy and laws?
Among many changes, the US-UK Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) has laid off hundreds of thousands of Iraqi workers, virtually eliminated trade tariffs and enacted laws that radically alter Iraq’s economy. Order 39, announced by CPA head Paul Bremer on September 20, abolished Iraq’s ban on foreign investment, allowing foreigners to own up to 100 percent of all sectors except natural resources. More than 200 state-owned enterprises, including electricity, telecommunications and pharmaceuticals, have been privatized. Iraq’s highest tax rate has been lowered from 45 percent to a flat rate of 15 percent. Although foreign ownership of land remains illegal, companies or individuals will be allowed to lease properties for up to forty years.
Are these changes legal?
These laws stand in clear violation of Iraq’s Constitution, as is openly admitted. The US Commerce Department notes that “the Iraqi Constitution prohibits foreign ownership of immovable (real) property,” and “prohibits investment in, and establishment of, companies in Iraq by foreigners who are not resident citizens of Arab countries.”
Consider how the CPA’s new laws and massive layoffs conform to its obligations under international law:
Article 43. The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.
Article 46. Family honour and rights, the lives of persons, and private property, as well as religious convictions and practice, must be respected. Private property cannot be confiscated.
Article 47. Pillage is formally forbidden.
Article 53. An army of occupation can only take possession of cash, funds, and realizable securities which are strictly the property of the State, depots of arms, means of transport, stores and supplies, and, generally, all movable property belonging to the State which may be used for military operations.
All appliances, whether on land, at sea, or in the air, adapted for the transmission of news, or for the transport of persons or things, exclusive of cases governed by naval law, depots of arms, and, generally, all kinds of munitions of war, may be seized, even if they belong to private individuals, but must be restored and compensation fixed when peace is made.