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2007 | Antoine Christian Buyse; Post-Conflict Housing Restitution: The European Human Rights Perspective with a Case Study on Bosnia and Herzegovina

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by Antoine Christian Buyse 2007 (PhD Thesis)
People who lose their house in times of armed conflict are faced with a myriad of legal and practical problems when they want to return after the conflict has ended. Houses may have been severely damaged or destroyed and authorities are often reluctant to enable, let alone promote the return of refugees or displaced persons: their departure may even have been one of the main aims of the conflict in the first place.

This study asks how the right to housing and property restitution for refugees and other displaced persons can be secured more effectively in European post-conflict situations. It is structured around three requirements for the effectiveness of a legal norm: its normative clarity, the operational framework which supports the norm, and the political will or consensus, among the main actors involved, to implement the norm. Throughout, the main perspective is the European Convention on Human Rights within the broader context of public international law and human rights law. Its main conclusions are (i) that restitution solutions be formulated in a legal way, as a right not an obligation; (ii) that impartiality must be ensured by temporarily including international elements at the highest levels of (domestic) restitution and human rights adjudicatory institutions; (iii) that it is essential to increase awareness among all actors of the importance of housing restitution in rebuilding the rule of law and structural peace.

Read the full text on this site.