11 Mar France Recognizes Libyan Rebels
The Wall Street Journal reports that France “formally recognized Libya’s main opposition group, the first country to do so.”
It is an excellent story and walks in brisk fashion through the latest moves in diplomacy and assessment of the military chances of the rebels. However, it is prudent at this point not to over-interpret the implications of this report about France. From a legal standpoint, there are degrees and types of recognition, and I have so far not been able to get more detail from either English or French-language press on what exactly this recognition is in a technical sense. (I’d welcome more information if readers have any on what the French government has actually said, in English or French sourcing.)
Possibilities include, however: recognition of the rebels as the legitimate government of Libya, or recognition of belligerency and the rebels as a belligerent group. These and more have different international law implications. The US government seems to have suspended relations with the Qaddafi government and apparently plans to meet with some representatives next week. But it has not moved to recognize the rebels in whatever way France has.
Update: Thanks Xavier – France recognizes the opposition as the only legitimate representative of the Libyan people and will be sending a diplomatic representative shortly.