Could a Political Trusteeship Work for Haiti?

April 29, 2010

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Months after the earthquake, permanent shelter is still scarce in Haiti, photo by Lawrence Downes/The New York Times

In the wake of the devastating Balkan wars, the United Nations ran the disputed region of Kosovo until the nation declared independence in 2008.

Similarly, in East Timor in 1999, the U.N. maintained a peacekeeping force and exercised legislative and executive authority until local institutions had the capacity to govern.

Agreements like these are often referred to as political trusteeships.

In a recent op-ed, Senator Christopher Dodd said a political trusteeship should be set up to rebuild Haiti.

Henry Perritt is a professor at Chicago Kent School of Law and a former dean of the school. He's written about trusteeships and how they've been applied.

He calls the former interim-government in Iraq—led by Paul Bremmer—a form of trusteeship, albeit an unsuccessful one.

Perritt and Jerome discussed trusteeships and whether one might work for Haiti. Although he supports them in some cases, he warns the international community should use them sparingly.