Human Rights Accountability of International Administrations: Theory and Practice in East Timor
Eric De Brabandere
Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies
January 27, 2010
ACCOUNTABILITY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS BY INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS, pp. 331-354, J. Wouters, E. Brems, S. Smis & P. Smitt, eds., Intersentia, 2010
Following the conduct of a popular consultation, through which the East Timorese expressed their clear wish to begin a process of transition towards independence, the Security Council established the ‘United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor’ (UNTAET) , an international operation endowed with full executive and legislative powers. UNTAET functioned as a government for almost three years, during which the international presence gradually transferred authority to the East Timorese institutions it had been asked to set up. On 20 May 2002, the new nation achieved independence, changed its name to Timor-Leste and became the 191st UN Member State on 27 September 2002. The exercise of such vast administrative powers by an international organization in a state or territory is far from ground-breaking. The UN, as well as its predecessor the League of Nations, had previously been involved in the administration of territory. Whereas many of these former international administrations were envisaged either as a solution for territorial questions, or to facilitate transition towards independence in the decolonisation era , the current use of international administration needs to be seen as a method of post-conflict peace-building. Having started out as missions in which no administrative power was exercised by international organizations, UN-led operations have become involved in long-term reconstruction projects, necessitating the grant of far-reaching administrative powers to UN subsidiary organs in order to exercise the functions entrusted to it by the Security Council. This evolution in peacekeeping mandates which started with the UN experience in Cambodia is explicitly aimed at creating stable and democratic societies , and therefore tackling the root-causes of conflicts. Although the creation of UNTAET can be said to have partly its roots in the decolonisation process, it nevertheless needs to be situated within this context. The final objective of the mission in East Timor is of course independence, but UNTAET clearly had many features of post-conflict peace-building included in its mandate, going well beyond merely facilitating the state’s transition towards independence.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 19
Keywords: human rights, international organizations, accountability, East Timor, international administrationsAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: January 29, 2012
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