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2003 National Delegate Conference
19 June 2003

Conference notes the statements made by Robin Cook and Clare Short at the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on 17 June 2003, that reaffirmed our belief that the basis for war in Iraq was unjustified. They believed that information from the intelligence services showed that, far from being prepared for an immediate response with Weapons of Mass Destruction, Iraq was not even in possession of battle ready weapons. We therefore instruct the NEC to demand – and campaign for vigorously – a thorough public independent enquiry in to the whole debacle.

Conference is horrified at the enormous loss of life – especially of innocent civilians – and the massive destruction of property and services that resulted from the military action in Iraq. Conference sends its deepest condolences to the families of all those killed in the conflict and its good wishes for a speedy and complete recovery to all those who have been injured.

Conference condemns the USA for its plans to use the events in Iraq as the start of a wider and even more dangerous campaign in which it uses its military might against other regimes which the USA has deemed as ‘rogue states’. Conference is appalled at the prospect that the Iraqi people may have to pay for the repair of the damage that has been done to their country. Conference resolves to call upon the USA, Britain and other governments to pay out of their own resources for the reconstruction of Iraq. We also condemn the Government’s willingness to commit resources to an unjust war when vital public services remain underfunded.

Conference further notes that the NEC:

1)Affiliated to the ‘Stop the War’ Coalition, encouraged members and branches to support the ‘Stop the War’ demonstration of two million people on 15 February and provided key speakers, including the General Secretary and the Deputy General Secretary, for rallies up and down the country;

2)Consistently maintained that any military action without the authority of the United Nations would be unjustifiable and against international law;

3)Ensured that that view was reflected in the TUC’s position;

4)Kept branches informed of the actions and decisions taken by the NEC.

Conference believes that without a just and viable solution to the Israel/Palestine crisis there can be no long term stability in the wider Middle East. Conference, therefore, reiterates its commitment to the creation of a viable, independent Palestinian State alongside a seucre Israel. Recognising that a majority of the people in the region want to live in peace, the NEC further commits itself to continue working with its sister unions and all those genuinely committed to the peace process, in Palestine and Israel, in their efforts to bring about justice, peace and stability to the region.

Conference is concerned that the military conflict in Iraq may have led to an increase of Islamaphobia and racist incidents in Britain. UNISON condemns all racist activity and calls on the government to continue its efforts to foster harmonious relations between all the communities of Britain and to stamp out racism and Islamaphobia.

Recognising the outcome of the military conflict in Iraq and in condemning the role of the British government in the conflict, Conference calls on the government to:

1)Work through the United Nations to protect the integrity and sovereignty of the Iraqi state and to help establish as quickly as possible a truly representative civilian administration which is democratically accountable to the Iraqi people;

2)Set in train a process which will allow the Iraqi people to elect a government of their own choosing, without outside intervention and at the earliest opportunity;

3)Recognise that, given that one of the government’s stated reasons for the military conflict was the gross abuse of human rights by the Iraqi regime, there is an absolute obligation on the all foreign forces currently in the country to respect and protect the human rights of all Iraqi citizens and to ensure that all allegations of human rights abuses are rigorously and speedily investigated;

4)Take immediate action to ensure stability and security in Iraq and thus allow for a speedy end to the occupation of Iraq and the earliest possible withdrawal of all foreign troops from the country;

5)Take the lead in the UN to put together the broadest possible coalition of countries and aid agencies to deliver an immediate programme of humanitarian aid and a systematic long term programme to provide basic necessities;

6)Ensure that, under the auspices of the UN, there is a programme of rapid reconstruction, with the involvement of the Iraqi people, based on a transparent and fair distribution of contracts;

7)Protect the integrity of the Iraqi state and ensure the democratic and human rights of all the peoples of Iraq;

8)Stop the plundering of Iraq’s natural assets, return the country’s oil industry to public ownership and ensure that these assets are used to the benefit of all the people of Iraq.

Conference calls on the NEC to work with other Unions, the international trade union movement and governments to assist the development of bona fide and independent trade unions in Iraq as part of a programme to build democratic institutions within the country. UNISON must be at the forefront of those helping to build a strong and effective union to fight for the interests of public service workers in Iraq.

Conference urges individual UNISON branches, regions and the National Executive Council to continue to promote UNISON’s position through the ‘Stop the War’ Coalition and by lobbying MPs and MEPs.