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Araud Says "There Is Only Malian Letter," French Letter Exists, w/o Article 51; Bamba Cites SCR 2085

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 14 -- As on Mali the UN Security Security began a closed door meeting on the afternoon of January 14 with UN official Jeffrey Feltman, Inner City Press asked French Permanent Representative Gerard Araud, "Your letter, did it cite Article 51?"

   Araud replied, "No, there was only one letter for the moment, and that's the letter of the Malians saying that they have requested the support of France, that's the letter that has been circulated to the Security Council on Friday."

   But moments later it was re-confirmed to Inner City Press that there WAS a letter from France on January 11, and that it did not cite Article 51 of the UN Charter.

  Article 51, which France did not cite, provides that

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

  The question concerns the basis of France's claim that its bombing of Mali begun on Friday "resides within the framework of international law."

  Especially since France's letter did not cite Article 51, most understood this as France's claim to "reside" within the framework of the Security Council's Resolution on Mali, Resolution 2085.

  In fact, on Monday afternoon Ambassador Bamba of Cote d'Ivoire, which now heads ECOWAS, told Inner City Press that France was acting directly under Resolution 2085.

In December, the UN Security Council's member spent multiple session negotiating Resolution 2085, which specified steps to be taken before military action began.

Among these was a requirement, in Operative Paragraph 11, that Ban Ki-moon as "Secretary-General also confirm in advance the Council's satisfaction with the planned military offensive operation."

But France began bombing Konna on January 11, then Gao and elsewhere since, without any such "confirmation in advance" by Ban Ki-moon.

On January 12 and against at the noon briefing on January 14, Inner City Press asked Ban's top three spokespeople to "please state, both as of the beginning of France's military operation and as of your response, what the Secretary General did to 'confirm in advance the Council's satisfaction with the planned military offensive operation,' specifying both what the Secretary General knew about the plans and operation, and what he knew of the Council's position on those plans and operation(s)."

Fourty two hours later, at noon on Monday, the UN Secretariat had provided no answer at all. Instead, French Mission to the UN spokesman Brieuc Pont e-mailed to the Press a tweet about a Security Council meeting on January 14, then was quoted by Agence France-Presse that the purpose is to "proceed with an exchange of views between members of the council and with the UN secretariat."

And so Inner City Press asked at Monday's noon briefing. Deputy Spokesperson Eduardo del Buey, even 42 hours after getting the question in writing, had no answer.

He referring to an upcoming 3 pm Monday Security Council consultation with the head of Ban's Department of Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman -- which can't cure the "confirm in advance" requirement -- and to Ban's telephone calls with French foreign minister Fabius and Cote d'Ivoire president Ouattara.

A spokesperson as Monday's meeting began indicated with Feltman would not take press questions afterwards.

While the main concern is about France's claim that its bombing "resides within the framework of international law," there is the related question of why Araud said there was only a Malian letter, when there WAS and IS a French letter.

Previously, Araud told Inner City Press on UNTV that the European Union is not a candidate to chair the Central African Republic Peacebuilding configuration -- which several EU sources immediately disputed to Inner City Press. These issues are complex, but clarity is important, and is not being provided. Watch this site.

Footnote: Inner City Press also asked Del Buey about the reported takeover of Diabaly; this question was not answered. What IS the UN's role in and knowledge of the conflict in Mali? We'll see.

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