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Illegal settlements and property rights under regimes that violate international law

Some very interesting papers have recently been made public by Yael Ronen, who specialises in the fields of international humanitarian and human rights law in the OPT. She has made a number of substantive contributions in her recent work on previously untrodden grounds. All three of her relatively recent papers are (from an objective perspective) interrelated and interdependent particularly, as far as the application of these legal principals to the OPT is concerned.

It is unquestionable that this work should be seen as an invaluable source of information and intelligible analysis for those looking to gain a better appreciation of the illegality of such regimes and practices, and the problematic that they pose as part of the greater picture in the OPT – to the Palestinian right to self-determination and the possibility of the termination of the belligerent occupation in the region and the manner in which such a thing would be done. Notably, the papers have indeed endeavoured to tackle legal subject-matters that have so far scantly appeared in academic publications.

The first paper concerns the “Status of Settlers Implanted by Illegal Regimes Under International Law” [International Law Forum of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Law Faculty, Research Paper No. 11-08, September 2008], either those that effectively operate as States and claim statehood on the basis of acts unlawful under international law, or those established States which act as sovereigns over areas outside their recognized national territories, in violation of international law.

The second, “The Dispossessed and the Distressed: Conflicts in Land-Related Rights in Transitions from Unlawful Territorial Regimes” [Forthcoming in Brems, Eva (ed) Conflicts between Fundamental Rights, (Intersentia: Antwerpen, 2008)], discusses mechanisms adopted for balancing conflicting rights related to privately-owned real property in a discrete category of situations, namely transition from unlawful territorial regimes.

Finally, the third paper, “Avoid or Compensate? Liability for Incidental Injury to Civilians Inflicted During Armed Conflict” [International Law Forum of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Law Faculty, Research Paper No. 04-08; and forthcoming in Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 42, 2009] , seeks to remedy the problematic standpoint of international law that leaves civilians, injured unintentionally and proportionately in the course of a lawful attack on a military objective, to bear the cost of their losses. Ronen balances compensatory policies based on a strict liability rule with the state’s considerations of economic utility, whilst concurrently adhering to a particularly welcomed perspective of a “needs-oriented approach”, proceeding from the needs of the victim rather than from the fault of the injurer.

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