Danish Supreme Court allows warfare without UN authority

PRESS RELEASE, April 5th, 2010.

On March 17 2010 the Danish Supreme Court pronounced judgment in a lawsuit about Denmark's participation in the war on Iraq in March 2003. 25 plaintiffs had claimed that this was a violation of the Danish constitution.

The Supreme Court decided to repudiate the case because the plaintiffs have no “legal interest” in the matter. It also stated that the Danish Constitution does not oblige the government to abide by the decisions of the UN.

The Constitution Committee Concerning the Iraq War has supported the lawsuit financially and with other resources. The chairman of the Committee made the following statement after the judgment:

About Denmark´s duty to abide by International law

We find the consequences of the judgment immensely alarming and wish to stress two things:

1) During the debate in Parliament in March 2003, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Per Stig Moeller, made a great effort to convince the population that the attack on Iraq would be in compliance with the UN.  His Ministry even produced a note claiming that the war was authorized by the resolutions 678, 687 and 1441 – a viewpoint shared by no other legal experts. So far the war has been declared illegal in Norway, Sweden, Germany, France, Russia, China, Holland and by the former General Secretary of the UN, Kofi Annan. And why go through all that trouble if the constitution really allows warfare against International Law?

2 ) All along the preparatory phase, the government stated that the famous weapons of mass destruction were the motive for joining the coalition. But in March 2003 it changed the explanation: we were now going to war because Saddam Hussein refused to cooperate with the UN.  If Denmark is not to be bound by UN decisions how can we make the same claims from other nations? And how can we use that argument to participate in such a meaningless war that has had disastrous consequences for the Iraqi people, for foreign soldiers and their families?  

We believe that most Danish citizens will condemn this blatant case of double moral standards, and we find it unworthy of a country that has become known all over the world for its lectures on democratic conduct.

About “legal interest” 

We are deeply concerned about the Court's interpretation of “legal interest”. This has been a lawsuit about constitutional principles – and in such cases the normal concept of legal interest can not apply. Although the judgment states that the war concerned all Danes, the Court repudiates the case because it did not concern the 25 plaintiffs more that all other citizens!

In our opinion this is a serious problem for our democracy. It points to the urgent need for a Constitutional Court as they have in other countries. Otherwise there is no way to hold Parliament responsible for possible breaches of our Constitution in matters of principles.

Finally, we must now demand a hearing - as in Holland and England - and we hope that the Danish voters will remember this important issue the next time they go to the polls.

The Constitution Committee Concerning the Iraq War
Chairman, Birgitte Albrechtsen