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The fundamental starting point of this conference is that peace operations represent a challenge to the implementation of international humanitarian law (IHL) for the simple reason that IHL was developed for states conducting hostile military operations against other states or non state actors.

Administration of territories represents one subset of peace operations – continuation of second-generation peacekeeping (PK) where parties, typically prodded by outsiders, formally delegate to the United Nations (UN) authority for the implementation of a peace agreement – though it has also been extended to situations where final status and outcome are not sure, as with East Timor and Kosovo.

Thus, international territorial administration (ITA) should under this view represent a similar challenge – indeed, there is great resistance to saying that the body of IHL addressing occupation of territory is relevant to ITA. However, it is much more common to talk about application of human rights (HR) law than IHL.

My thesis today is that occupation and ITA have much more in common than we care to admit and thus that IHL has significant relevance for ITAs.

Apart from building on the observations of Shraga and Sassoli about peacekeeping operations (PKOs) generally, I’m not sure what’s left to say. Maybe, just pull the canevalas out for a more conceptual, less doctoral view of the problem.


Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. Originally published as Ratner, Steven R. "Administration of Territories by the United Nations: Is There Room for International Humanitarian Law?" In International Humanitarian Law: Human Rights and Peace Operations, edited by Gian L. Beruto, 169-174. San Remo, Italy: International Institute of Humanitarian Law Roundtable Proceedings, 2008.