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Assessing the Legality of ECOWAS Planned Military Intervention in Niger

On July 26th, a military junta overthrew Niger’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum. International condemnation followed culminating in the ECOWAS order, on August 10th, to deploy “its standby force to restore constitutional order in Niger”. In an excellent article published on West Point Lieber Institute, Professors Russell Buchan and Nicholas Tsagourias argued that an ECOWAS military intervention would be legal because it has been invited, either in an abstract treaty-based manner, or based on an invitation by President Bazoum. As I argue below, I respectfully disagree: The argument of an abstract treaty-based invitation not supplemented by an ad hoc consent has no support from the AU nor the ECOWAS practice. In any case, Niger has clearly revoked its consent to the relevant treaty. As to an ad hoc invitation by the deposed President, Mr. Bazoum does not seem to enjoy the required international recognition to consent to a military intervention in the context of competing governments. Accordingly, the envisaged military intervention would be illegal and, consequently, the current…

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