This article deals with what it defines as puppet states or instances of covert occupation. In order to bypass the political burden and especially the legal obligations which international humanitarian law and general international law impose on the occupying power, a growing trend has come into place for states to create secessionist entities within another state. These secessionist entities, which have all outside aspects of a de facto state, are in fact effectively controlled by their sponsor state. Furthermore, the sponsor state not only establishes the puppet state through military force, but also controls its everyday life through the use of military, economic and political means, leading to a de facto annexation of the given territory. Five regions in the world are in this situation, while a sixth is under creation in Eastern Ukraine. Northern Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria, South Ossetia and Abkhazia can all be defined as puppet states. The unclear status of these regions makes them areas of impunity, regions which largely fall outside the implementation of international humanitarian law. The present paper intends to present this phenomenon and unveil the legal gaps that enable the use of puppet states for escaping the burden of international humanitarian law.
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