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The "empty shell" approach: the setup process of international administrations in Timor-Leste and Kosovo, its consequences and lessons

By Nicolas Lemay-Hebert


State-building under the aegis of international administrations has faced various hurdles and obstacles in Kosovo and Timor-Leste — failures that came to full light in March 2004 in Kosovo and in May 2006 in Timor-Leste. However, the international conception buttressing the set up of international administrations — I dub it the "empty-shell" approach — is still present in certain policy circles. This article aims to analyze this international conception by clarifying how the UN came to impose its authority over the two territories in a very similar process. While the literature on each state-building experiment is vast and com- pelling, few authors have attempted to contrast the two case studies, especially regarding the mental conception informing the governance process of these territories since 1999. This article links the empty-shell approach with the delegitimization process that came to be experi- enced by the UN in both cases. The article describes the international policies put in place by the UN to expand its control over the two terri- tories, a mix of co-option of local elites and the marginalization of the local population. Finally, the article reveals some possible solutions in order to avoid the more blatant difficulties pertaining to state-building conducted from the outside-in

Topics: JZ International relations, JA Political science (General)
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1528-3585.2011.00427.x
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