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The creation and control of places of protection during United Nations peace operations

31-12-2001 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 844, by Bruce M. Oswald


Major Bruce M. Oswald
CSC is Deputy Director of International Law, Defence Legal Office, Canberra, Australia. He has also worked with the ICRC as Delegate to the Armed and Security Forces. This article was written while the author was a Visiting Scholar at the Lauterpacht Research Centre for International Law, Cambridge (UK). The author gratefully acknowledges the helpful guidance of, amongst others,Daniel Bethlehem, A.P.V.Rogers OBE, Tim McCormack, Michael Kelly and Liz Saltnes. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Australia. 

To create places of protection is a means of safeguarding civilians from the effects of hostilities. This article examines the legal regime for their creation and control during United Nations peace operations. The author considers international law and State practice in cases where UN forces have, without the consent of some or all belligerents, established and controlled places of protection pursuant to Chapter VII of the UN Charter. He also studies the legal basis for UN forces to create and control such places without being explicitly mandated to do so. He concludes that even in the absence of an explicit Security Council mandate, they can in certain circumstances be le gally justified in taking such action.  

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