Update on lessons of Chilcot

On May 30, the Iraq War Family Campaign Group (IWFCG) issued an update on the campaign to hold government to account, started after the publication of the Report of the Chilcot Inquiry.

Following the submissions filed in April by the IWFCG to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) entitled “Safeguards for proper Government decision making”, calling for stronger decision making safeguards and legislative reform, on May 29 the PACAC published its report.

With their submissions, the families and their lawyers aim at ensuring that important decisions be subjected to “robust and informed scrutiny within Government through the process of formal consideration by the Cabinet and its committees.”

The PACAC Report includes some useful Committee’s recommendations, however the IWFCG is disappointed with the conclusion that:

“There is no case for the rules on collective decision making in the Cabinet Manual being placed on a statutory footing. The system and guidance on accounting officer directions is established without any statutory basis and is accepted by both the Government and Parliament. It allows for amendments to be made easily to reflect learning or wider evolutions in policy making. It is also right that Ministers, and ultimately the Prime Minister, should be accountable to Parliament and not the Courts for their political decisions. If a future Prime Minister decided to abuse his or her discretion it would be open to Parliament to hold them to account, or to put statutory safeguards in place.”

The main concern is that the recommendation proposed would still not be enough to ensure that proper process is followed and implemented. When it come to matters of such national and international importance, such as whether to wage war, IWFCG wants “Parliament to introduce stringent legislative safeguards over the checks and balances that would be necessary before committing the country to war.”

Rightly, IWFCG underlined one of the core lessons produced by the Iraq Inquiry, namely that “the key lesson of the Chilcot Report is that it will always be insufficient to rely on convention alone”. It is exactly why the Global Committee for the Rule of Law “Marco Pannella” and the Nonviolent Radical Party are campaigning to have the human right to know officially and fully recognized by the United Nations and consequently by all member states.

Matteo Angioli

Read the full statement of the IWFCG here

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