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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: January 2010

11 - The legality of international territorial administration


The UN Charter does not expressly provide for the conduct of the UN in an executive capacity such as territorial administration outside the framework of the Trusteeship system. Nevertheless, three factors support the claim that the United Nations has statutory authority to administer territories beyond the scope of application of Article 81: the drafting history of the Charter, the institutional practice of the organisation, and the systemic structure of the Charter system.

Authority to administer territories under the Charter of the United Nations

The debates at the San Francisco Conference lend support to the view that the UN was intended to possess sufficient personality to exercise jurisdiction and control over territory.

The drafting history of the UN Charter

Following the practice of the League of Nations in territorial administration, the drafters of the Charter deliberated in 1945 whether it was necessary to bestow the organisation with the express power to exercise territorial jurisdiction or to guarantee the territorial integrity of an entity. The Norwegian delegation introduced a proposal expressly to state that the Security Council may “take over on behalf of the Organisation the administration of any territory of which the continued administration by the state in possession is found to constitute a threat to the peace”. This proposal was only withdrawn because it was assumed that such a reference could limit the discretion and field of application of measures at the disposition of the Council under Chapter VII.