You, the People: The United Nations, Transitional Administration, and State-Building

Overview

The governance of post-conflict territories embodies a central contradiction: how does one help a population prepare for democratic governance and the rule of law by imposing a form of benevolent autocracy?

Transitional administrations represent the most complex operations attempted by the United Nations. The operations in East Timor and Kosovo are commonly seen as unique in the history of the UN—perhaps never to be repeated. But they may also be seen as the latest in a series ...

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Overview

The governance of post-conflict territories embodies a central contradiction: how does one help a population prepare for democratic governance and the rule of law by imposing a form of benevolent autocracy?

Transitional administrations represent the most complex operations attempted by the United Nations. The operations in East Timor and Kosovo are commonly seen as unique in the history of the UN—perhaps never to be repeated. But they may also be seen as the latest in a series of operations that have involved the United Nations in 'state-building' activities, where it has attempted to develop the institutions of government by assuming some or all of those sovereign powers on a temporary basis. The circumstances that have demanded such interventions certainly will be repeated.

Seen in the context of earlier UN operations, such as those in Namibia, Cambodia, and Eastern Slavonia, the view that these exceptional circumstances may not recur is somewhat disingenuous. Moreover, the need for such policy research has been brought into sharp focus by the weighty but ambiguous role assigned to the UN in Afghanistan and the possibility of a comparable role in Iraq.

This book fills that gap. Aimed at policy-makers, diplomats, and a wide academic audience (including international relations, political science, international law, and war studies), the book provides a concise history of UN state-building operations and a treatment of the five key issues confronting such an operation on the ground: peace and security, the role of the UN as government, judicial reconstruction, economic reconstruction, and exit strategies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An original study of how new institutions can be created in such war-damaged countries as Bosnia, Cambodia, and East Timor. In his book the weight of the subject and the depth of research are supported by wit, candor, brevity, and analytical writing of a very high order."—The New York Review of Books

"In this fine, timely, and usable study, Simon Chesterman analyzes the complicated process of transferring power from an international authority that has governed a country temporarily to a viable local regime."—Wilson Quarterly

"...a pathbreaking book about the varied experiences of the United Nations in state building.... very impressive..."—Political Science Quarterly

"This single authored work speaks with the authority of a major global commission study and offers analyses and prescriptions with important implications for human rights scholars and practitioners. Important sections assess the international community's efforts regarding transitional justice, the administration of justice, and the development of rule of law capacity in occupied states. On each of these themes, as with the many other dimensions of the study, Chesterman is adept at revealing the contradictions and weak points of each operation studied and offers excellent advice on needed reforms."—Human Rights Quarterly

Brian Urquhart
Chesterman, director of an international institute at New York University, has made an original study of how new institutions can be created in such war-damaged countries as Bosnia, Cambodia, and East Timor. In his book the weight of the subject and the depth of the research are supported by wit, candor, brevity, and analytical writing of a very high order. Although the occupation of Iraq is just one of many cases that Chesterman considers, his book provides, among other things, a guide to the problems of transitional occupation that is extraordinarily relevant to America's current difficulties.
New York Review of Books (Vol 51, No 14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199284009
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 9/2/2005
  • Series: Project of the International Peace Acade
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 318
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Simon Chesterman is Global Professor and Director of the New York University School of Law Singapore Program, and Vice Dean and Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore. His books include Shared Secrets, Just War or Just Peace? (OUP 2001), and One Nation Under Surveillance (OUP 2011).

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1. Colonies and Occupied Territories: Transitional Administrations Through the Twentieth Century
2. Power and Change: The Evolution of United Nations Complex Peace Operations
3. Peace and Security: The Use of Force to Maintain Law and Order
4. Consultation and Accountability: Building Democracy Through Benevolent Autocracy
5. Justice and Reconciliation: The Rule of Law in Post-Conflict Territories
6. Relief and Reconstruction: The Politics of Humanitarian and Development Assistance
7. Elections and Exit Strategies: No Exit Without a Strategy, or No Strategy Without an Exit
8. 'You, the People': The Future of State-Building

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