Notes & Queries...
This was a question sent to last week's Notes & Queries in the Guardian.
If Tony Blair joins the Americans in attacking Iraq, is there any international law under which he can be prosecuted?
The effectiveness of international law is best shown by summarising an incident regularly cited by Noam Chomsky. During the Reagan administration, Nicaragua took the US to the World Court, which ruled in Nicaragua's favour and condemned what it called the US's "unlawful use of force" against the Latin American country. The US dismissed the judgment and announced that, henceforth, it would not accept the jurisdiction of the court.
Nicaragua then took the case to the UN security council, which considered a resolution calling on all states to observe international law - in effect calling on the US to recognise the jurisdiction of the World Court. The US vetoed the resolution.
Nicaragua then went to the UN general assembly, which passed a similar resolution. Only the US, Israel and El Salvador opposed it.
The following year, Nicaragua again took the case to the UN general assembly. Again the US and Israel voted against the resolution.
Draw your own conclusions on the likelihood of successfully prosecuting Blair and enforcing any judgment.