Human rights lawyer Femi Falana, SAN, advised the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that it is constitutionally necessary to seek the consent of the United Nations Security Council before executing any operations in the Niger Republic.
Last Sunday, the ECOWAS, under the leadership of President Bola Tinubu, ordered putschists in West Africa a week to release and reinstate Mohamed Bazoum, the elected leader of Niger who has been held by the military for more than ten days.
In a statement released on Sunday, Falana emphasized that in order to attack a sovereign state, ECOWAS is required by Article 53(1) of the UN Charter to consult with and obtain the Security Council’s permission.
The senior attorney cited Article 53(1) and said, “The Security Council shall, where appropriate, utilize such regional arrangements or agencies for enforcement action under its authority.’
“But no enforcement action shall be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authorization of the Security Council.”
According to him, this means that the conduct of the ECOWAS, as a regional arrangement, is subject to the provisions of the United Nations Charter, particularly article 53(1) and general international law.
“Therefore, the ECOWAS can not justify any intervention in Niger without the authorisation of the Security Council,” he said.
“It is also clear that any intervention by the ECOWAS, apart from being subject to the authorisation of the Security Council, must be on a collective basis and not a unilateral one.”
He added that in the absence of explicit Security Council authorisation, any intervention by the ECOWAS would be illegal, unless it concerns a situation of self-defence, “which is clearly not the case in the situation of the planned intervention in Niger”.