Instead of issuing statements with no legal force, the Security Council should act now to maintain international peace and security in Mali

ECOWAS and the African Union may provide the troops for military intervention to assist the French and Malian forces in repelling the advances of Islamist groups and Tuareg insurgents in Mali, but they are not up to the task of leading and coordinating the whole effort.

Such leadership must come from the U.N. Security Council, which must work much harder now than it did before in passing Resolution 2085 on December 20, 2012.

Under the United Nations Charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for maintaining and restoring international peace and security. Instead of issuing meaningless Press Statements which, though they have no legal force, mislead the world into thinking they are actually doing something when they are not, the members of the Security Council should get on with it, and take effective action under Chapter VII of the Charter.

Otherwise, they will become as irrelevant in Mali as they have become in Syria.

At the end of the day, someone has to lead. If it is to be the French, with American support, let them lead through the Security Council. All the ideological language about the intervention force being “African-led” should be dropped at once.

The objective here is not to have an “African-led” force, but rather to have an effective force that is capable of defeating the jihadists and revolutionaries who have seized much of Mali, and–at least until the French intervened–were advancing on Bamako.

The world does not need another Afghanistan, or a country like what Syria is becoming. The world must act, and the institution through which it must act is the Security Council.

Leadership is needed, now. If France is to take the lead, the U.S. and the other Security Council members should pull behind France and provide full support, acting through the Security Council.

In any event, the terms of Resolution 2085 have been overtaken by events on the ground. Consequently, the Security Council needs to immdiately negotiate and adopt a new resolution on Mali which takes current realities into account.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.