UK military accountability: New government should change how it decides to go to war

In 2020, Keir Starmer vowed there would be ‘No more illegal wars’ under his Labour Party leadership.

After a landslide election on 4 July, the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights calls on the new prime minister and his government to change how the decision to go to war is made.

As it stands, the UK Prime Minister can authorise going to war without consulting Parliament. While a constitutional convention that Parliament should be involved in the decision to go to war supposedly emerged following the invasion of Iraq in 2003, recent deployments of British forces overseas have occurred without prior debate or vote and have often been based on controversial legal justifications.

To enhance democracy, ensure adherence to international law, and prevent extensive civilian harm, the UK should urgently strengthen democratic control over its war powers. Since the decision to go to war is made in everyone’s name, Parliament must have the power to say no and the right to access the full legal advice of the Attorney General and independent experts.

Video: Time to strengthen democratic control of UK war powers.

Learn more and see our suggestions for reform in our policy brief Strengthening democratic control of UK war powers in an age of remote and hybrid warfare.

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