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From Haiti to Somalia: The Assistance Model and the Paradox of State Reconstruction in International Law

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This article is an attempt to draw attention to the nature of the assistance model of state reconstruction and its significance for the UN system. Traditional international legal doctrine identifies valid state consent with an effective domestic government. Moreover, effective control remains the means for applying the legal right of self-determination for the population of a state as a whole. Nonetheless, a frequently adopted paradigm for large-scale international involvement in the reconstruction of an ineffective state operates through the consent of an ineffective government. The assistance model is found in the recent past of Haiti (1994–1997; 2004–), Sierra Leone (1998–2005), Liberia (2003–), Afghanistan (2001–), in Iraq following the formal end of the belligerent occupation (2004–), and there are signs that it could soon be pursued in Somalia. To reveal how the assistance model of state reconstruction in fact relates to the political independence of the target state and its people, the key features of the assistance model and related legal issues are addressed. The main argument is that while the assistance model appears unremarkable, in fact it offers little protection for political independence and as a consequence puts at risk the core values of the UN system of self-determination of peoples and international peace.

Affiliations: 1: Durham University, UK

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