Vidan Hadzi-Vidanovic is a lawyer in the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights. The views expressed in this contribution are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe.
On 11 January France commenced air-strikes against Malian rebel forces which are controlling two thirds of the Malian territory. It also commenced ground operations several days later. The French Foreign Ministry explained that it is acting upon the invitation of the Malian government. Nevertheless, it emphasized that the action is conducted “strictly in the framework of the United Nations Security Council resolutions”. The intervention came a day after the Security Council called for a “rapid deployment of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA)” which was authorized by Resolution 2085 (2012) to “take all necessary measures” for supporting Malian authorities in “recovering the areas in the north of its territory under the control of terrorist, extremist and armed groups and in reducing the threat posed by terrorist organizations”.
Looking at the position of the French government and the formulation of the relevant provisions of Resolution 2085, one may rightfully wonder what the legal basis for the French intervention and the announced deployment of the Nigerian-led intervention forces actually is. Is it an intervention based on the invitation of the legitimate government of Mali, or an intervention based on the authorization of the Security Council, or are the two separate legal grounds mutually reinforcing?