Christopher Greenwood

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This article is about the barrister (born 1955). For the cartographer (1786-1855), see Christopher Greenwood (cartographer).
Sir Christopher Greenwood
Sir Christopher Greenwood - Flickr image 4397409719.jpg
Christopher Greenwood, 2009
Judge of the International Court of Justice
Assumed office
Personal details
Born 1955 (age 61–62)
Nationality British
Alma mater University of Cambridge
Occupation Judge

Sir Christopher John Greenwood CMG QC (born 1955) is an English judge at the International Court of Justice, to which he was elected on 6 November 2008.[1][2] Prior to his election, he was professor of international law at the London School of Economics and a barrister who regularly appeared as counsel before the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights, the English courts, and other tribunals.

Family and career[edit]

Sir Christopher is the son of Captain Murray Greenwood and Diana Greenwood. He is married with two daughters.

Sir Christopher was educated at Wellingborough School. He then studied law at Magdalene College, University of Cambridge, where he was awarded a BA (Law) (First Class Hons) in 1976, LLB (International Law) (First Class Hons) in 1977, and MA in 1981. As an undergraduate, he was elected President of the Cambridge Union. He was called to the bar at the Middle Temple in 1978 and was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1999. In 2002 he was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to international law. He was knighted in the 2009 New Year Honours.[3]

The Legality of Using Force Against Iraq[edit]

Greenwood is well known for the October 2002 legal opinion tendered to the British government, entitled The Legality of Using Force Against Iraq.[4] The legal opinion, which he signed in his capacity as a law professor, has been used to justify that the invasion by Britain, the United States and allied powers was sanctioned by the UN Security Council. However, the opinion was concluded in the month before the adoption of UN Resolution 1441 and the conclusion was stated to be dependent on one of three conditions being satisfied. These conditions (he said) were (1) "if the UN Security Council adopts a fresh resolution authorizing military action against Iraq and any conditions set out in that resolution are met" - this did not happen; or (2) "under existing Security Council resolutions on the basis that the Security Council considered that (a) Iraq is in material breach of those resolutions" and (b) "that breach constitutes a threat to international peace and security in the Gulf area. This would not require a fresh Security Council authorization of military action". The question of whether these conditions were satisfied is controversial and unclear, since there was no further resolution which might have rendered the point clear. Alternatively, (3) "under the right of self-defence if an armed attack by Iraq against the United Kingdom or one of its allies was reasonably believed to be imminent. This would not require any action by the Security Council." In practice, this condition turned on whether the UK (for example) reasonably believed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction which might be launched 45 minutes after an order to do so, and that the government of Iraq were likely to use those weapons. Although a dossier published by the British Government said that they did (the so-called "dodgy dossier" examined during the Hutton Inquiry), it later turned out that they did not, and, moreover, the basis of the stated belief to the contrary has been challenged. This, too, therefore, remains a highly controversial question.

Greenwood has also acted as counsel for the government of the United Kingdom in relation to a number of cases in both domestic and international courts: the Ojdanic case in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; Federal Republic of Yugoslavia v. United Kingdom in the International Court of Justice; the General Assembly request to the ICJ for an advisory opinion on the Palestinian wall (UK observations on admissibility); R (on the application of the European Roma Rights Centre and others) v. Immigration Officer at Prague Airport and others; and R (on the application of Abbasi and Mubanga) v. the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and others.[5]

Notable appearances include:

  • Libya v. United Kingdom (Aerial Incident at Lockerbie) ICJ Reps., 1992, p. 3; ICJ Reps. 1998, p. 3
  • Case concerning Legality of Use of Force (Yugoslavia v. United Kingdom) ICJ Reps, 1999
  • R. v. Bow Street Magistrates, ex parte Pinochet (No. 1) [2000] 1 AC 147, [1998] 3 WLR 1456 and (No. 3) [2001] 1 AC 147, [1999] 2 WLR 827 [1999] 1 WLR 188 (Court of Appeal)

The Globe and Mail reported on 31 August 2007 that Greenwood had been hired by the Canadian Department of National Defence for an opinion on the responsibility Canada had for captives apprehended in Afghanistan.[6] The legal issue is whether Canada can use the United Nations mandate to override its international treaty obligations.[6]



External links[edit]