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Economic Plans for Iraq May Violate International Law

Lisa Ashkenaz Croke | 10.11.2003 23:33 | Anti-militarism | World

The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority’s (CPA) failure to adhere to Iraq’s foreign ownership laws violates international laws, and could nullify contracts signed by foreign investors.

A May 22 Executive Order from President George W. Bush authorized the confiscation of certain state assets, including property belonging “to a person, organization or country that has planned authorized, aided or engaged in armed hostilities against the United States” to be used for Iraq’s humanitarian needs and reconstruction of the country’s economy and infrastructure.

Five months later, CPA Order 39 allowed full foreign ownership of state-owned assets (with the notable exception of natural resources).

However, the Financial Times of London is reporting that legal experts told international business leaders gathering in London last week that the order likely violates the 1907 Hague Regulations and the Fourth Geneva Convention, as it defies certain bans on private and foreign ownership under Iraqi law.

The constitution can only be legally amended with the permission of the Iraqi people.

The legal obligation to abide by Iraq’s current laws also calls into question CPA-head Paul Bremer’s September 15 order to implement a 15 percent tax, effectively eliminating Iraq’s (rarely enforced) top tax rate of 45 percent for individuals and businesses.

Lisa Ashkenaz Croke
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