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The book is the first comprehensive treatment of the reasons why international organizations have engaged in territorial administration, from the League of Nations in Danzig during the inter-war period, to the UN in East Timor recently and Kosovo today. Moving beyond the fashionable and misleading use of terms like 'post-conflict reconstruction' and 'state-building' to describe the role of international territorial administration, this book engages in a complex analysis of the various purposes with which this activity has been associated, some of which - for example settling disputes over sovereignty - have nothing to do with perceived local incapacities for governance.
The book goes beyond territorial administration by the UN, covering the conduct of this activity by international organizations generally, thereby analyzing lesser-known projects like the EU Administration in Mostar, 1994 - 6. It addresses instances of partial as well as plenary administration, such as the role of the Office of the High Representative in imposing legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1996.
By revealing the complex and diverse range of objectives which international organizations have attempted to realize through territorial administration, and establishing the commonalities and differences between the administration projects in this respect, the book establishes the contours of an international policy institution, to rank alongside 'peacekeeping' and 'humanitarian intervention.' By doing so, it provides a framework through which some of the key questions relating to such projects, concerning legitimacy, authority and applicable law, can be addressed.
It also reveals a secret history of international organizations throughout the 20th Century, complementing work on their role in managing relations between states by exposing their role within particular states and non-state territories, beyond the well-documented activity of peacekeeping by military forces.