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Part 2 The Post-Cold War Era (1990–2000), 43 The ECOWAS Intervention in Sierra Leone—1997–99

Susan Breau

From: The Use of Force in International Law: A Case-Based Approach

Edited By: Tom Ruys, Olivier Corten, Alexandra Hofer

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 20 May 2024

Self-defence — Precedent — Humanitarian intervention — Regional organizations — UN Charter

This chapter analyses the intervention by the Economic Community of West African state forces, known as ECOMOG, into Sierra Leone from 1997-1999. After a brief review of the very complex facts surrounding this intervention and the generally positive reaction from the international community, this chapter reviews the legal justifications for this intervention and tests them against the jus ad bellum existing at that time. Reasons given were the restoration of a democratically elected government, self-defence, humanitarian intervention, intervention by consent or invitation and retrospective authorisation by the Security Council to a regional peacekeeping operation. None of these are found to have met the tests for legality within jus ad bellum. A final justification argues that this case study is a precedent as an African exception to the prohibition on the use of force with delegation or assumption of powers by an African regional organisation. This would be a troubling challenge to the United Nations Charter regime but might well be part of a larger trend of African use of force initiatives.

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