The people of France are in a difficult position. They, and others, are the victims of crime.
Confusingly, President Hollande has declared in response that France is at war. This is
confusing because France has no intention of “declaring” war on any other state (currently).
The problem comes from the careless use of the term “war”.
War is illegal, in principle, unless resorted to in self-defence. France signed the Kellogg-Briand pact of 1928 to that effect and later signed and fully subscribes to the UN Charter. The UN Charter provides for the illegality of war
in Articles 2.3 and 2.4.
2.3 All members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace, security and justice are not endangered.
2.4 All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
The UN Charter provides two justifications for the use of force:
(1) pursuant to a resolution of the UN Security Council that explicitly authorises armed force in order to maintain or restore international peace and security; or
(2) under Article 51, affirming states’ right to individual or collective self-defence.
France’s terrorists should be pursued by the French police (and security forces) in France or elsewhere in Europe (with EU assistance). However, France must apply to the UN Security Council to authorise the use of force in Syria or Iraq. (Kofi Annan has confirmed in the past that the US and UK war in Iraq had no authorisation from the Security Council and was illegal).
It is not correct to seek support for war in Syria and military action there, in the Council of Ministers of the European Union. The EU has no authority to sanction war in Syria or Iraq, even where self-defence is claimed as its purpose.
France must urgently apply to the Security Council of the UN to sanction its actions, or intended actions, in Syria.