Political and diplomatic aspects

On October 11, 2002, the United States Congress passed the "Authorization for
Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002", giving U.S. President
George W. Bush the authority, under US law, to attack Iraq if Saddam Hussein
did not give up his weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and abide by previous
UN resolutions on human rights, POW's, and terrorism. On November 9, 2002,
at the urging of the United States government, the UN Security Council passed
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441, offering Iraq "a final
opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" that had been set out in
several previous resolutions (Resolutions 660, 661, 678, 686, 687, 688, 707,
715, 986, and 1284), notably to provide "an accurate full, final, and complete
disclosure, as required by Resolution 687 (1991), of all aspects of its programs
to develop weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles". Resolution 1441
threatened "serious consequences" if these are not met and reasserted
demands that UN weapons inspectors that were to report back to the UN
Security Council after their inspection should have "immediate, unconditional,
and unrestricted access" to sites of their choosing, in order to ascertain
compliance. Significantly, the Resolution stated that the UN Security Council
shall "remain seized of the matter" (United Nations Security Council Resolution

On February 15, 2003, as a response to the imminent invasion, the largest ever
world-wide protests took place with 6-10 million people in over 60 countries
around the world.

In his March 17, 2003, address to the nation, U.S. President George W. Bush
demanded that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his two sons Uday and
Qusay leave Iraq, giving them a 48-hour deadline. This demand was reportedly
rejected. Iraq maintained that it had disarmed as required. The UN weapons
inspectors (UNMOVIC) headed by Hans Blix, who were sent by the UN Security
Council pursuant to Resolution 1441, requested more time to complete their
report on whether Iraq had complied with its obligation to disarm (UN Security
Council Resolution 1441; UNMOVIC). The International Atomic Energy Agency
IAEA reported a level of compliance by Iraq with the disarmament requirements
(UN Security Council Resolution 1441; IAEA) Hans Blix went on to state the Iraqi
government was "hoping to restart production once sanctions were lifted and
inspectors left the country." The attempt of the United Kingdom and the United
States to obtain a further Resolution authorizing force failed when France made
it known they would veto further Resolutions on Iraq. Thus, the Coalition
invasion began without the express approval of the United Nations Security
Council, and most legal authorities regard it as a violation of the UN Charter.
(cf. The UN Security Council and the Iraq war) Several countries protested.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in September 2004, "From
our point of view and the UN Charter point of view, it was illegal." Proponents of
the war claim that the invasion had implicit approval of the Security Council and
was therefore not in violation of the UN Charter. Nevertheless, this position
taken by the Bush administration and its supporters has been and still is being
disputed by numerous legal experts. According to most members of the Security
Council, it is up to the council itself, and not individual members, to determine
how the body's resolutions are to be enforced. Despite the discovery of
chemicals that are part of legitimate industrial use, but which could be possibly
used as potential components of WMD manufacturing, no actual weapons of
mass destruction were found.