Research Handbook on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
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Research Handbook on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

Edited by Robert Kolb and Gloria Gaggioli

This fascinating Handbook explores the interplay between international human rights law and international humanitarian law, offering expert analysis on the increasingly complex issues surrounding their application in conflict areas across the world.
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Chapter 19: UN territorial administrations: between international humanitarian law and human rights law

Ivan Ingravallo


The international administration of territories is the performance by an international organization of government functions in a territory, both when it involves all the sectors that comprise the State government (executive, legislative, judicial) and when it involves only a part of them. The key element is given by the fact that the ‘last word’ is up to the international organization rather than to the sovereign territorial or local government institutions, if any. As a result, an international territorial administration is not realized when an international organization does not exercise powers of government over a territory, but has only the tasks of supervision, assistance or support to the functioning of public institutions of a State or territory. The international administration of territories had gained new momentum at the end of the 1990s, when the United Nations (UN) created some operations with such a mandate. On 15 January 1996 the UN Security Council established the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES) by Resolution 1037 as a result of the Peace Agreement signed between the Government of Croatia and the representative of the local Serb minority. In the Agreement the parties asked the Security Council to establish a territorial administration with a mandate to ‘govern’ that area for a transitional period and to promote the peaceful return of these territories under the authority of the Croatian Government. UNTAES had a civilian and a military component, both placed under the ‘overall authority’ of a Transitional Administrator, entrusted with legislative powers.

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