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Iran and the fairy tale of international law

By James McConvill - posted Tuesday, 7 February 2006

The United Nations should be preparing to strike Iran - in a military sense. That it is not doing so, and that there is every indication it will not do so, once again shows that the UN is useless.

It is an expensive, self-serving body that wastes the time and money of nation states. It is time for a reality check once and for all. The UN should be scrapped altogether.

And while we have the dustbin open, we should also dispose of that collection of fairy tales that has been given the collective title of “international law”. In striving for international peace and security, we would be better off purchasing a copy of Harry Potter, than buying into the fictional system of international law.


Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a tyrant. Give him time and he is likely to not only blow up Israel, but have a go at the West too. In less than a year since he came to power, Ahmadinejad has well and truly immersed himself in uranium enrichment activities, and it is not because he is struggling to find a tennis partner.

Ahmadinejad’s uranium activities are for one reason and one reason only: to build a nuclear weapons program. Yes, we have heard it before about a rogue state supposedly developing nuclear weapons. That state was Iraq, and nothing was found.

But this time, there is no doubt. Ahmadinejad is trigger happy and he seems to be quite proud of it. He is also a twisted figure that wants a battle. He has publicly stated that Israel should be “wiped off the map” and stirred up the Israelis by saying the Holocaust never occurred.

In clear terms, what we have is a threat to international peace and security. This is not a mild threat, a quiet threat, a secret threat, or an unrealistic threat. It is a big threat, and it is staring right in the face of the UN and its band of fluffy international law administrators.

In the case of Iran, however, what seems to be of more concern is not the big threat, but the big oil. Iran is the second-largest producer of oil among OPEC countries (behind Saudi Arabia), and an important destination for foreign investment - particularly in its hydrocarbons sector.

Yet the UN’s Security Council is unlikely to impose economic sanctions on Iran, or order a strike on nuclear research locations there. This is simply because either option will hit the hip pocket of at least two permanent members of the Security Council, Russia and China, which have developed strong trade and investment links with Iran.


The United States, another permanent member of the Security Council, is also likely to engage in a lengthy pause before any action is taken against Iran, due to the effect that any action could have on world oil prices. There is nothing worse, it seems, than having to fork out a couple of bucks extra to fill the car.

This collective standstill over Iran once against highlights the pure farce that is international law. The UN Charter clearly empowers the Security Council to authorise the use of force to defeat a threat to international peace and security.

An important tenet of the rule of law is that the law should apply without fear or favour. The application of the law should not depend on how much oil you have at your disposal, or whether you have brown eyes or blue.

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About the Author

James McConvill is a Melbourne lawyer. The opinions expressed are his personal views only, and were written in the
spirit of academic freedom when James was employed as a university lecturer.

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