Counter-Intervention, Invitation, Both or Neither? An Appraisal of the 2006 Ethiopian Military Intervention in Somalia
Mizan Law Review, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 201-239, September 2009
39 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2009 Last revised: 12 Feb 2011
Date Written: September 1, 2009
Drawing on contemporary norms of international law governing the use of force and military interventions, this article seeks to evaluate the legality of the 2006 Ethiopian military intervention in Somalia. Traversing through the principles of democratic legitimacy, international law principles of effective control and recognition, the article reflects on the legality of Ethiopia’s intervention on behalf of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (hereinafter the Transitional Government or the TFG). By calling attention to the instabilities of the normative foundations of invitations in international law, the article will ask whether the TFG is indeed a government proper commanding the moral and legal authority to extend invitation to foreign forces to intervene in the internal affairs of the State. Questioning the validity of Ethiopia’s claim for invitation, the article further attempts to posit the unconventional state of affairs present in Somalia and explores whether there is a need for a different approach in the legal analysis of how invitation may be granted.
Working through emerging theories of international law, the article tries to extrapolate the form of governmental legitimacy that is required to invite foreign forces into the State when there are two or more competing factions. Accordingly, it asks whether the TFG’s international recognition is, of itself, a sufficient parameter to entitle it to speak for the Somali State in light of international law and as such confers on it, rather than its Islamist rivals, a better right to invite foreign forces into the country.
Despite allegations by the UIC and other forces, Ethiopia consistently denied sending its troops to Somalia until it formally declared war on 24 December 2006. Nonetheless, Ethiopia admitted to sending what it called “military trainers and advisers” to help strengthen the security and defensive capabilities of the fragile Transitional Federal Government even before its declaration of war. In addition to the issues raised in the preceding paragraph, this article interrogates whether the provision of “military trainers and advisers” by Ethiopia upon the invitation of the TFG constitutes a violation of Article 2(7) (the non-intervention principle) and/or 2(4) (prohibition on the use or the threat of force) of the Charter. Finally, against the backdrop of the UN Charter and general international law, the article will aspire to shed light on possible exceptions to the non-intervention principle and to determine whether Ethiopia’s conduct neatly fits into any of those exceptions.
Keywords: Intervention, Counter-Intervention, Invitation, Use of force, Ethiopia, Somalia, Legitimacy of Government, The Principle of Effectivity
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