Resolutions of the National Stop the War Conference, 6 March 2004
The Stop the War Coalition established itself on the political and campaigning map last year. It has been described as the fastest growing political movement in Britain. Our mobilisations have brought millions onto the streets, have filled meetings up and down the country, have organised school students' strikes, direct action protests and industrial action against war. Although we failed to stop the war, we have created a mass movement, which is still organised and determined to prevent further wars and hold the government to account.
The issue of the war on terror remains the major question in British politics. We have sustained a mass movement for two and a half years, firstly round the war in Afghanistan then round the lead up to war in Iraq, the war itself and its aftermath in the form of the occupation. At various times, we have also prioritised associated issues such as Palestine, the attacks on civil liberties and the rise of racism and Islamophobia. Despite the problems of the US and British governments in occupying Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush and Blair administrations are committed to future interventions under the banner of the 'war on terror'. Although the war in Iraq is formally over, there is no sign of the movement going away.
There are a number of reasons why:
- The reasons for going to war were always contested. It was pushed through despite the wishes of millions. The ostensible reason for war the existence of weapons of mass destruction has been conclusively disproved.
- The government continues to refuse to accept responsibility for the war or related issues. The Hutton report is widely regarded as a whitewash, since it attacks the BBC and by implication Dr Kelly while totally exonerating every member of the government and its advisers. The Butler inquiry is already regarded in the same way.
- There is growing resistance to the illegal occupation of Iraq. This takes the form both of armed resistance and of demonstrations and protests against unemployment and in favour of free democratic elections. We should continue to campaign for an end to the occupation, for democracy now for the Iraqi people and for the withdrawal of US, British and other occupying troops.
- In recent months, there has been an increase in attacks on Muslims, and a series of restrictions of civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism. Government ministers have taken a lead in the ideological onslaught against Muslims.
- There is growing instability in the Middle East, centred on Israel's occupation of Palestine. Instead of the promised road map to peace, Ariel Sharon is using the 'war on terror' to increase repression, including building an apartheid wall. We should continue to campaign for freedom for Palestine and against the wall.
Stop the War was founded to oppose the 'war on terror' first in Afghanistan, then in Iraq. Its other demands were in defence of civil liberties and opposition to racism. All the demands remain as relevant as ever.
Planned activity for the coming months should include:
- March 20 is the first anniversary of the war. There have been calls for an international day of action on that day, with demos taking place throughout the world. We are organising a national demonstration in London on that day, where we will let off 16,000 balloons to mark the dead of the war and occupation.
- Manchester STW is planning a major protest on March 13 when Tony Blair speaks at the Labour Party spring conference there.
- There should be a petition calling for a full public inquiry (not headed by one judge) into all the reasons why we went to war.
- We should help organise an international tribunal into the evidence for war, bringing together international experts to indict the government.
- Local meetings on the outcome of Hutton, the attacks on civil liberties and the continuing occupation of Iraq should be held in the run up to the day of action. In London we are organising political and cultural events in the run up to March 20th, including 'Words of Mass Resistance' in St James's, Piccadilly. 'No War on Iraq Liaison' is holding a conference on Iraq on March 13 with speakers including Scott Ritter.
- There should be fringe meetings at the union conferences in the spring.
Proposed by: The STWC Steering Committee
It is important that Stop the War Coalition local groups support national initiatives called by the StWC steering committee/national council, in order to maximise the political pressure on the government.
However, it is also necessary for StWC groups to organise a regular programme of local events in order to strengthen and deepen the opposition to the war, the occupation and the assaults on civil liberties.
Local groups should organise regular public meetings to draw in a wider audience than the usual activists, and attract local press attention. Where appropriate these should be used to build national events, however educational public meetings should also be organised at other times with expert speakers on Palestine, Iraq or civil liberties.
Local groups should organise regular activities such as street theatre, mass leafleting or petitioning. Regular fly posting should be organised calling for an end to the occupations.
Local groups should provide alternative sources of information to counter the propaganda in the mainstream press, and the lack of reporting concerning the occupation and Guantanamo/Belmarsh hostages or the Civil Contingencies Bill. For example, through producing regular local leaflet/bulletins, through maintaining an active and informative web page, and through regularly submitting stories to the local press.
Proposed by: Swindon Stop the War
The anti-war movement in Britain has created a long list of historic firsts in British politics – not least of all the largest political demonstration in British history on 15 February 2003. The London demonstration was itself only one part of the largest and geographically broadest anti-war demonstration in the history of humanity. Far from collapsing at the onset of the invasion of Iraq, the movement has continued to organise from one historic first to the next, from the largest ant-war demonstration during wartime to the largest mid-week demonstration. The Stop the War Coalition has played the leading role in uniting an unprecedented movement that has transformed British politics for the better.
We have clearly demonstrated that millions of people from all sections of British society did not and still do not support Blair and Bush’s imperialist invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Since the end of the invasion the tasks of the movement have changed however. Rather than opposing the invasion of Iraq, we are now faced with the occupation of the country, the military domination of the Iraqi people, and the privatisation of much of the national infrastructure by the occupying powers. Just as the invasion had no legal basis, the occupation and privatisation of Iraq are contrary to international law and must be opposed.
Stop the war Coalition's priorities should include the following:
- To create the conditions that will make it as difficult as possible for the British Government to take part in any future imperialist war. This means ensuring that those who led Britain into the invasion of Iraq pay as a high a political price as possible. To this end we must continue to explain the illegal nature of the Government’s action, and to fight within the organisations of the working class to hold the leaders of the Labour movement to account for their actions in promoting the war. Stop the War Coalition should maintain focus on the Government's stated reason for going to war 'weapons of mass destruction' and the fact that none have actually been found.
- To oppose the occupation of Iraq. The coalition should help promote an understanding in Britain of the nature of the occupation through literature and publications and to build the broadest possible campaign to demand the immediate withdrawal of British and US forces from Iraq.
- To build solidarity with the Iraqi people. To this end the Stop the War Coalition should encourage the development of direct links between the Trade Unions, Women's Groups, Student Unions, Campaigns, Social and Cultural organisations in Britain with social movements in Iraq. Whilst this should involve large scale initiatives such as major trade unions visiting and helping to rebuild the independent trade union movement in Iraq, Stop the War Coalition should also develop ways of providing smaller organisations with a focus of providing practical help through twining arrangements or fundraising appeals. Genuine solidarity must be primarily focused on non-governmental organisations and individuals in Britain providing practical support to helping rebuild civil society in Iraq by supporting those organisations not aligned to the occupying forces.
- We should aim to strengthen the international nature of the anti-war movement at every opportunity. In particular we should ensure that the anti-war movement plays a key role in the European Social Forum, using the opportunity to develop maximum unity of purpose amongst all those opposing Bush and Blair's imperialist ambitions.
Proposed by: Labour Against the War
Public life in the USA and the UK is now dominated by debates and enquiries about the roles played by spies, security experts, politicians, and media in the decision to go to war. STWC has played a major role in creating the public will for such debates.
However, the front line of the US/UK 'War on Terror' remains Iraq, where combatants kill each other and innocent civilians on a daily basis. Afghanistan also continues to be a running sore. The obsession of UK society with what happened in Westminster before the Iraq War is diverting public attention from the situation on the ground in the countries that we have attacked, and what is being done there daily by the USA, their allies, and the corporations whose interests they serve.
Keele STWC would like to see a more explicit campaigning focus within STWC on the promotion of positive short- to medium-term strategies for stopping the killing and civil disorder in Iraq, Afghanistan, Asia and the Middle East.
Proposed by: Keele STW
The StWC recognises that the UK government joined the US-led war and occupation of Iraq in order to protect the UK's own imperial interests in the Middle East.
An important task of the StWC is to expose the UK-owned oil companies, British banks, establishment figures and others whose interests are being served by Britain's participation in the war. The StWC denounces the 'special relationship' as an alliance of thieves, who for half a century have worked together to prevent the peoples of the Middle East gaining control over their own governments and natural resources.
Proposed by: Sheffield STW
This conference congratulates the thousands of activists who organised the historic anti-war demonstrations in 2003, and salutes the millions who came to the demonstrations and meetings. We believe that the StW Coalition was responsible for showing to the country that the Blair government had little support for its decision to go to war.
This StW Coalition conference notes that the lies used to the justify the war in Iraq continue to be at the forefront of people's concerns in Britain and that this is leading to diminishing support for Blair. The lies and cover-ups, and the spectacle of various parts of the establishment arguing against each other, is strengthening the view that the war in Iraq was carried out to suit the USA's strategic interests and not out of humanitarian concerns.
Inside Iraq, there is increasing opposition to the occupation and to the asset stripping of the economy to US firms. The demand for immediate general elections to choose an independent and sovereign government is widely supported across all sections of the population.
After the discredited Hutton enquiry and the forthcoming extremely narrow Butler enquiry, there is now very wide support for all the facts surrounding the political decision to go to war to be made public.
It is in this context that the credibility for pre-emptive wars against rogue states is seriously damaged, as people see that the world is now a more dangerous place than before the occupation, not just from possible terrorist attacks also from state repression of civil liberties.
The attempt by the USA with the support of Britain to re-arrange the world order following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to suit its priorities is floundering, both through its occupation of Iraq and through having been found out lying about the need for war.
This conference believes that the role for the Stop the War Coalition is as necessary as ever given the occupation of Iraq, the continuing un-ending war against terrorism, the threat of further pre-emptive wars, and the attacks on civil liberties.
This conference therefore agrees to:
- Add to its platform "End the Occupation - Troops Out Now" and "Free Elections Now".
- Organise a national demonstration on Saturday 20 March, on the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and to coincide with others held across Europe and the World.
- Initiate the holding of a tribunal to investigate all aspects of the decision to go war and its conduct, to indict those responsible for war crimes, and with the aim that this tribunal reports its findings at the ESF.
- To propose that the demonstration to be held at the end of ESF in London should have as one of its main theme opposition to the un-ending war, for an immediate end to the occupation and free elections.
- Encourage local groups to organise teach-ins between Easter and the Summer on the cover-up, the occupation, and imperialism's strategy.
- Develop a national membership system with the aim of having at least 10,000 members nationally by the end of 2004.
- Produce a quarterly publication for members and supporters covering the activities of the Coalition, reports from Iraq but also Afghanistan and Palestine, and analysis of imperialism's strategy.
Proposed by: The International Socialist Group
- that the invasion of Iraq was an illegal act in international law contravening the binding agreements contained in Articles 1 and 2 of the UN Charter,
- that the wilful killing of at least 20,000 Iraqis by coalition forces was an act of genocide, a crime against humanity and a war crime under Sections 51 and 52 of the International Criminal Court Act 2001,
- that the use of weapons such as cruise missiles, cluster bombs and depleted uranium shells causing deaths and injuries to civilians was a war crime and criminal offence under the ICC Act 2001 and the Rome Statute,
- that Britain's law enforcement agencies have refused to investigate or indict those political, civil and military leaders responsible for the gravest criminal offences in Britain's history,
- that in cases where a signatory nation is unwilling or unable to initiate criminal proceedings in its domestic courts the International Criminal Court in The Hague is authorised to do so,
The Stop the War Coalition agree to mount a nationwide campaign requiring the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in the Hague to uphold the Rome Statute and investigate the crimes committed against the people and state of Iraq by members of the British government, and lay criminal charges of 'genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes' in the International Criminal Court against Tony Blair and all those British political, civil and military leaders responsible for the crimes committed against Iraq and the Iraqi people.
Proposed by: Lawyers Against the War
That conference adopt a resolution to oppose all imperialist military interventions around the world.
African Liberation Support Campaign Network
This Stop the War Conference calls for the US and British governments:
- to recognise the threat to peace and security, both in the Middle East and the world, posed by the Israeli government, the only Middle Eastern country known to possess weapons of mass destruction
- to exercise all possible pressure on the Israeli state to end their illegal occupation of Palestine
Proposed by: Exeter STW
- The US's unjustified and illegal assault and occupation of Iraq, supported by Britain, has resulted in a humanitarian disaster, including tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths. (For example, the International health charity MEDACT estimates in the first seven months of the invasion and occupation between 21,700 and 55,000 Iraqis died.)
- The Iraq Survey Group's failure to find weapons of mass destruction has exposed as lies the British government's central justification for war. It underlines the hypocrisy of the US and Britain, who used depleted uranium-tipped missiles against Iraq and threatened pre-emptive nuclear strikes.
- The Bush administration is aggressively pursuing a strategy of pre-emptive wars against countries it deems a threat to its global dominance, and the attack on Iraq is part of this. It has cited Iran, Syria, North Korea, China, Russia and Cuba as further targets. Underpinning the US war drive is the development of new nuclear weapons designed for 'battlefield' and its National Missile Defence System, which would enable it to launch a nuclear attack on another nuclear state without fear of retaliation.
- The British Government is allowing the use of Fylingdales and Menwith Hill for the US NMD system. There is also a strong danger that it is preparing to develop new nuclear weapons at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston, and the Stop the War Coalition is supporting the London to Aldermaston March, 9-12 April, in protest at this.
- The actions of the US administration and the British Government make the threat of further wars - and the use of nuclear weapons in such wars - much more likely.
- The alliance between the Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Association of Britain and CND, mobilised the largest demonstrations in British history and has created a broad, diverse and strong anti-war movement.
- To call for the US/British occupying forces to withdraw from Iraq, for the Iraqi people to elect their own government and for all its resources and wealth to be under the ownership and control of the Iraqi people.
- To call for US and Britain to clear Iraq of unexploded cluster bombs and depleted uranium pollution.
- To campaign against the threat of further wars.
- To support CND's campaigns against the US NMD and the development of new nuclear weapons.
Proposed by: London Region CND
The Stop the War Coalition condemns US military intervention in Colombia, the Andean Region and throughout Latin America, and pledges to mobilise in support of the popular and anti-imperialist movements against US war in the Americas.
We note that:
- the US is already involved in a dirty war in Colombia that is responsible for 20 deaths daily
- Colombia's president Uribe not only supported the war on Iraq but called for 260,000 coalition troops to occupy the Amazon region
- that Bush plans to spend another $700 million on military intervention in Colombia next year including $430 million on 'Plan Colombia' fumigation operations; $109 million on the special 18th Brigade that is patrolling the Caño Limón-Coveñas pipeline on the border with Venezuela; and an estimated $110 million on CIA operations.
We further note that the historic presumption of the US to intervene in the affairs of its southern neighbours is again coming to a head:
- US marines are operating in the Peruvian part of the Amazon;
- the US has a major airbase at Manta in Ecuador;
- On the pretext of war against drugs, the US military runs frequent exercises in Bolivia;
- The US supported the failed coup against President Chávez on 11 April 2002;
- continuing attempts to isolate Cuba and destroy the gains of the Cuban revolution;
- the School of the Americas notorious for training Latin America military in counter insurgency doctrine and torture techniques is still running at Fort Benning, Georgia.
We oppose the British government's military assistance to the Uribe regime, which presides over the worst human rights violations in the western hemisphere.
We condemn the role of British oil multinational BP and ex South African mining houses Anglo-American and BHP-Billiton in Colombia in taking advantage of lack of human rights guarantees to boost their profits.
We believe that the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas is an expression of economic imperialism that is generating an historic North-South conflict in the American continent.
We support the right of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean to self-determination.
We agree to work with the Colombia Solidarity Campaign and other Latin America solidarity groups and interested parties to:
- send a delegation to Bogotá to the International Meeting Against Militarisation and Plan Colombia on 20 July 2004
- mobilise a day of protest on 4 December 2004 for human rights and against 'free trade' and Militarisation encouraging the involvement of local groups.
Proposed by: The Colombia Solidarity Campaign
Opposition to the attack on Iraq and to British support for the 'war on terror' embraces people from a very wide variety of political organisations and views. The ability to mobilise people across political, religious and other boundaries in support of peace has been one of the foundations of the strength of the anti-war movement.
Maintaining that breadth of support and unity of purpose remains a priority for the Stop the War Coalition. The danger of further wars led by Bush remains acute. If British support for them is to be prevented, it can only be on the basis of a mass movement of the British people, across party boundaries. For that reason, the Stop the War Coalition has never advocated electoral support for any particular Party or political movement, and does not associate itself with any one candidate or list in elections.
Nevertheless, the Coalition recognises the strong and growing desire to hold the Blair government to account at the ballot box for its war policy, particularly in the elections taking place on June 10 this year. We believe that voters should take this opportunity to vote for peace by supporting any candidates or parties that opposed the war in Iraq, are urging an end to the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq, and are against British support for George Bush's programme of endless war, providing only that such candidates or parties share the Coalition's founding values of support for civil liberties and opposition to racism.
The Steering Committee urges local Coalitions and affiliates to consider holding candidates' hustings during the pre-election period in order to highlight the importance of the war issue.
STWC Steering Committee
This conference recognises the achievements of the Stop The War Coalition in involving people across the political spectrum and re-affirms the political non-alignment of the Coalition.
Proposed by: Bristol STW
Blair shifted his proclaimed reason for going to war from WMD to democracy and freedom for the Iraqi people.
The White House conviction that Iraqi would welcome the transformation of their country into 'Free Market Dream State' may have been just off-target as that the soldiers would be greeted with flowers.
Conference requested to consider adopting a resolution in support of the Iraqi people resisting illegal occupation by the Bush/Blair Armies:
- End to occupation now.
- Support the resistance to occupation.
- To call for immediate election for an interim governing council.
- Disregard all civil governance decrees and laws issued by the US appointed IGC (Iraqi Governing Council) until democracy is restored legitimately by election of the Government and Leadership. In accordance with The Hague Regulation of 1907 and Geneva Convention of 1947.
The Iraqi people endured 30 years of dictatorship, 13 years of sanctions and now occupation. The UN Charter should be reaffirmed and their courage deserves our support.
Proposed by: Friendship Across Frontiers
Stop the War Coalition regards the struggle for peaceful and democratic solution to the Kurdish Question in the Middle East as one of its priorities in all its local and national activities.
Proposed by: The Kurdish Federation in UK
At present our structure consists of a national conference once a year which elects a Steering Committee based mainly on representatives of our affiliates, which in turn chooses an officers group (in addition to the three officers elected directly by conference, those being the Chair, the Convenor and the Treasurer).
Two problems have become clear in the course of the year. Firstly, there is inadequate representation of local groups. No means have been found of holding committee meetings at times when people from outside London can regularly attend. Secondly, many individuals and affiliates on the Steering Committee have seldom if ever attended the meetings.
In order to provide more effective leadership to the Coalition by addressing these shortcomings, we propose to move to the following structure.
- A National Council which would meet two or three times a year at weekends in different parts of the country. All national affiliates would be invited to send representatives to this, as well as representatives of local groups to be chosen by the local groups. This council would be responsible for discussing and agreeing plans of work and events, as well as taking a position on relevant political developments, especially those affecting local groups.
- The Steering Committee would meet, as now, every few weeks in London. This would remain responsible for the general overview of the Coalition, its finances, events and political initiatives. All members of the Steering Committee would also be on the National Council. The new Steering Committee would elect the officers group.
Proposed by: The STWC Steering Committee
We oppose so-called 'anti-terrorism' laws, which are being used to terrorise migrant communities and to criminalize political dissent. Such laws are not needed to protect us but are used to attack civil liberties - which we will defend.
We endorse the following activities:
- Demand the immediate release of anyone detained under 'anti-terror' laws, especially those being interned without trial.
- Oppose the prosecution of anyone for alleged association with (or membership in) a banned organisation.
- Advocate repeal of all 'anti-terror' legislation.
- Oppose the extension of 'emergency' powers, e.g. through the Civil Contingencies Bill, which uses 'terrorism' as a pretext for further attacks on civil liberties.
Proposed by: CAMPACC
This meeting notes:
- The growing number of 'terror alerts' in major cities and at airports, and high profile police targeting of the Muslim community has helped whip up fear and suspicion.
- The comments of Minister for Europe Denis MacShane, that it is "time for the elected and community leaders of British Muslims to make a choice: the British way, based on political dialogue and non-violent protests, or the way of the terrorists against which the whole democratic world is uniting".
- The increase of arrests under the Terrorism Act. In 2002-03 there have been 32,100 searches under the act - 21,900 more than in the previous year, and over 30,000 more than 1999-2000 levels. Of the 32,100 searches, just 380 people were arrested. Since the Twin Towers attack, 529 people have been arrested under anti-terrorist legislation and only five convicted of terrorist offences.
This meeting believes:
- As part of the ideological justification for war with Iraq there has been a concerted attack by supporters of the war in government and the media to demonise Islam and present Muslims as extremists, supporters of terrorism and the potential 'enemy within'.
This meeting resolves:
- To continue to campaign against attacks on civil liberties and Islamphobia.
- To support the new anti racist organisation Unite Against Fascism and its don't vote fascist campaign in the forthcoming local and euro elections.
Proposed by: Birmingham STW