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International Territorial Administrations and the Rule of Law: The Case of Kosovo

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Author(s): Didier Paquee and Steven Dewulf

Journal: Essex Human Rights Review
ISSN 1756-1957

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2007;
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Keywords: NATO | accountability | protection | human rights

ABSTRACT
When the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) went to war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to liberate Kosovo, it did so primarily to prevent ongoing human rights violations and possible genocide. When the United Nations (UN) took on the interim administration of Kosovo, it also proclaimed that promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms was one of the main purposes.Since the beginning of this administration by the UN, however, the status of human rights in Kosovo has remained unclear. Also, the relationship between NATO forces in Kosovo and the protection of fundamental rights was ambiguous. This essay will first analyze the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) as given by Security Council Resolution 1244. This examination, combined with a closer look at the powers and activities of the NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) and an analysis of the effective situation on the ground, will show that UNMIK and KFOR exercise de facto all of the governmental functions in the territory of Kosovo.As we are confronted with an international organisation having all the powers of a national State, the question arises whether UNMIK, and by extension KFOR, also carries out the responsibilities and abide by the obligations normally imposed upon States. Indeed, when the administration of a territory by the UN goes as far as taking over all the State’s rights, leaving aside its responsibilities, important questions of accountability arise. It will be these questions of accountability that will be addressed, taking a closer look at both the ‘national’ and international remedies that are available to the people of Kosovo. This analysis will lead to the conclusion that significant changes should be made when mandating international organisations’ missions that have an important focus on governance. Such missions should primarily be conceived from a point of view which recognises the paramount importance of the protection of human rights, the separation of powers and the accountability of its own actors.
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