Intervention, Self-Determination, Democracy and the Residual Responsibilities of the Occupying Power in Iraq
11 U.C. Davis Journal of International Law & Policy 23 (2004)
51 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2013
Date Written: 2004
By invading and occupying Iraq, and then attempting to establish a pro-U.S. democracy, the United States government accepted potentially open-ended legal responsibility. This responsibility still weighs heavily upon the U.S., and is likely to do so for many years, despite the officially announced transfer of sovereignty to an Iraqi Interim Government.
The just war debate should not be viewed as merely a question of politics or morality. Without a valid legal justification, attacking and occupying another sovereign country is a violation of international law, and as such entails the legal responsibility of the intervening country. But "jus ad bellum" should concern more than the just or unjust initiation of war. It should also encompass the no-fault legal responsibility assumed by states that initiate just wars. This article does not attempt to resolve the continuing debate on the legality of the invasion of Iraq. It argues that the U.S. bears continuing post-war responsibility for conditions in Iraq even if the war was legal.
This article focuses principally upon the primary obligations under international law assumed by the U.S. as an intervening power and as an occupying power, considering only in passing the issue of possible U.S. violations of international law and corresponding secondary responsibility for reparation.
Keywords: international law, intervention, self-determination, legal responsibility, occupation, Iraq, just war
JEL Classification: K30, K33, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation