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Lessons: from Bosnia to Kosovo

Demonstrations  in January 2006. The signs read: “UN and OHR are trampling on human rights”, “Lord??? Paddy Ashdown go home!”, “War criminals have more rights than we”
Demonstrations in January 2006. The signs read: “UN and OHR are trampling on human rights”, “Lord??? Paddy Ashdown go home!”, “War criminals have more rights than we”

There are numerous lessons in this sorry tale for future international missions that take on executive authority in post-conflict countries. The first and almost banal lesson is that nobody is infallible. In our own democracies, we believe firmly in the importance of institutional checks and balances to control those who exercise power. We know that errors and disputes are inevitable, and we create mechanisms for resolving them. International administrations charged with promoting democracy, human rights and the rule of law in post-conflict societies cannot operate by lesser standards. If they disregard basic legal principles, they undermine their own legitimacy, undercutting the very goals they set out to achieve.

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