Desmond Tutu calls for Blair and Bush to be tried over Iraq

Archbishop Desmond Tutu Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been a long time critic of the war in Iraq

Related Stories

Tony Blair and George W Bush should be taken to the International Criminal Court in The Hague over the Iraq war, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said.

Writing in the UK's Observer newspaper, he accused the former leaders of lying about weapons of mass destruction.

The Iraq military campaign had made the world more unstable "than any other conflict in history", he said.

Mr Blair responded by saying "this is the same argument we have had many times with nothing new to say".

'Playground bullies'

Earlier this week, Archbishop Tutu, a veteran peace campaigner who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 in recognition of his campaign against apartheid, pulled out of a leadership summit in Johannesburg because he refused to share a platform with Mr Blair.

The former Archbishop of Cape Town said the US- and UK-led action launched against Saddam's regime in 2003 had brought about conditions for the civil war in Syria and a possible Middle East conflict involving Iran.

"The then leaders of the United States [Mr Bush] and Great Britain [Mr Blair] fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand - with the spectre of Syria and Iran before us," he said.

He added: "The question is not whether Saddam Hussein was good or bad or how many of his people he massacred. The point is that Mr Bush and Mr Blair should not have allowed themselves to stoop to his immoral level."

Start Quote

To say that the fact that Saddam massacred hundreds of thousands of his citizens is irrelevant to the morality of removing him is bizarre”

End Quote Tony Blair

Archbishop Tutu said the death toll as a result of military action in Iraq since 2003 was grounds for Mr Blair and Mr Bush to be tried in The Hague.

But he said different standards appeared to be applied to Western leaders.

He said: "On these grounds, alone, in a consistent world, those responsible should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in The Hague."

In response to Sunday's article, Mr Blair issued a strongly worded defence of his decisions.

He said: "To repeat the old canard that we lied about the intelligence [on weapons of mass destruction] is completely wrong as every single independent analysis of the evidence has shown.

'Chemical weapons'

"And to say that the fact that Saddam massacred hundreds of thousands of his citizens is irrelevant to the morality of removing him is bizarre.

"We have just had the memorials both of the Halabja massacre, where thousands of people were murdered in one day by Saddam's use of chemical weapons, and that of the Iran-Iraq war where casualties numbered up to a million, including many killed by chemical weapons.

"In addition, his slaughter of his political opponents, the treatment of the Marsh Arabs and the systematic torture of his people make the case for removing him morally strong. But the basis of action was as stated at the time."

He added: "In short this is the same argument we have had many times with nothing new to say. But surely in a healthy democracy people can agree to disagree.

"I would also point out that despite the problems, Iraq today has an economy three times or more in size, with child mortality rate cut by a third of what it was. And with investment hugely increased in places like Basra."

Start Quote

It's now almost certain that the war was illegal because it breached the United Nations Charter provisions.”

End Quote Sir Geoffrey Bindman Human Rights Lawyer

Human rights lawyer Sir Geoffrey Bindman told BBC Radio 4 the Iraq war was an illegal aggressive war.

He said a war crimes trial "should be and could be held on the basis a crime of aggression has been committed and the crime of aggression was starting the war.

"It's now almost certain that the war was illegal because it breached the UN Charter provisions which say that all member of the United Nations must refrain from the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state."

Former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer said he disagreed with Desmond Tutu and Sir Geoffrey.

"The use of force is allowed among other reasons when the United Nations authorises it, and the United Nations authorised it by resolution 1441.

"The dispute between Geoffrey and myself would be whether or not resolution 1441 did or did not authorise war and we say that it did.

"Even that disagreement doesn't give rise to the possibility of war crimes, the world has very impressively over the last two decades come together and identified what they mean by war crimes; genocide, ethnic cleansing, torture and in a variety of ways brought people to trial for that"


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • Comment number 798.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 797.

    There's something downright distasteful about a 'christian' leader whooping & hollering for retribution-check out Michael Pfleger on Youtube-distasteful &...hypocritical?Love thine enemy as thyself,isn't that what HE said?
    Time for career change, Archbishop, even if it means a pay cut and loss of status??

  • rate this

    Comment number 796.

    All this criticism of Blair yet at the very next GE after his so-called illegal invasion of Iraq the British Public voted him back into power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 795.

    Never voted Labour but I trusted Blair at the time. Thought he was a good man who wouldn't take us to war unless he knew something. Our engagement in that war was surrounded by controversy and now we know there were no WMD's. Let's get the pair of them over to The Hague. Blair's wife is a Human Rights lawyer, what does she say about the thousands of innocents that died in that war?

  • rate this

    Comment number 794.

    I remember reading a letter ( by a 13 year old girl on the European Rationalist. It completely sums up my view of Blair the Liar. Why did Tutu not speak up before. Tutu is right, of course, but why take this long? Blair is a war criminal and there is no doubt about that. Blair the Liar is indeed the Antichrist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 793.

    Strange. When I wrote on this very same BBC website with regard to the conditions of Julian Assange being arrested just 2 weeks ago (which was that Bush and Blair should thus be tried in The Hague for crimes against humanity) my commented was sensored for being inflammatry. Yet it seems if you are Archbishop Tutu not only are your comments not get a full colour page. Why is that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 792.

    Bishop Tutu is exactly correct. As a resident of a western nation, it is clear to this reader that a different standard applies to western readers. People such as Blair and Bush can come up with all kinds of rationale to justify. However, it will be their rationale and their only - regardless of logic. Blair's defense is just that. It seems that he is getting scared - with Bush right behind him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 791.

    The Iraq war split the country down the middle. Little has changed. Those that opposed the war then support the TuTu's comments now. I gave Blair the benefit of the doubt at the time. I am far more unforgiving of Blair for the absence of preparation to look after the Iraq people after the invasion since this did not depend on the dark art of intelligence but only on common sense and humanity.

  • Comment number 790.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 789.

    Completely disagree with the bishop. Crazy to blame that war for the regions instability. Tutu may have stood against apartheid but he's got his wires crossed on the middle east.

  • rate this

    Comment number 788.

    If Blair had these misgivings about Saddam, he should have at least been TRUTHFUL about why he went gunning for him. As Arch. Tutu points out, there seem to be different rules for western leaders, like 'we can develop nuclear weapons, but you can't'. And, as for Iraq's economy now having nearly trebled, I wonder how many of his cronies are benefiting from that as they oversee re-building?

  • rate this

    Comment number 787.

    The Iraq War is over+whats done is done

    Its reminds me of USADA going after Lance Armstrong
    after he retired

    Its ridiculous

    Theres nothing that can be won by such
    The war is over
    Lets all move on

    This guy is always trying to tell other people what to do
    I know he has tried to shut down numerous USA tv shows

  • Comment number 786.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 785.

    Desmond Tutu is right on this one. Ask all of the Iraqis who have been displaced or who have lost loved ones whether it was worth it or not? A man I much admire, Colin Powell, was duped into lying at the UN concerning the existence of the ephemeral WMD (recall the Gulf of Tonkin incident?). WMD = Words of Mass Deception

  • Comment number 784.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 783.

    You have a point, but for one thing. Saddam had been committing atrocities for years and years, the Halabja massacre and the Iran Iraq war happened in the late 1980's. I think using them as a justification of their actions is about as cynical and hypocritical as one can get especially when you think that Bush senior could have removed Hussein after GW1 but chose not to do so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 782.

    Tutu is making an important stand here, because he is trying to act as broker between the impossible divide which has built up between east and west: A divide made all the wider by Western folly over Iraq. Of course Blair and Bush will never face trial at the Hague but Tutu's call for it does help to redress a serious political imbalance. Some things need to said for all to hear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 781.

    At least Bush went quiet, while Blair just couldn't resist strutting the world stage. I hope I'm still alive when these two are stood in the dock to answer to their lies to their citizens.

  • rate this

    Comment number 780.

    No WMD?

    Why didn't the CIA just plant some?

    That is after all what you would expect them to do isn't it? (Bay of Pigs, exploding cigars, Iran Contra etc. etc.)

    But why didn't they?

    Perhaps they were waging their own war against Bush and Blair - they are after all not under any real control by the USA and have a history of 'freelance' activities - so I guess that must be the explanation?

  • rate this

    Comment number 779.

    Tony Blair's legacy is that he completed what Margaret Thatcher started.

    New Labour my a#@e!


Page 13 of 52


More UK stories



  • Nigel Farage (left) and Douglas CarswellWho's next?

    The Tory MPs being tipped to follow Carswell to UKIP

  • A painting of the White House on fire by Tom FreemanFinders keepers

    The odd objects looted by the British from Washington in 1814

  • Sailing rock in Death ValleyRock and roll

    Mystery of Death Valley's 'sliding rocks' solved - and more tales

  • Chris and Regina Catrambone with their daughter Maria LuisaSOS

    The millionaires who rescue people at sea

  • Plane7 days quiz

    What unusual offence got a Frenchman thrown off a plane?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.