On 1 November 1994, the United Nations Trusteeship Council voted to suspend operations after Palau, the last remaining trust territory, attained independence. The idea of trusteeship expressed in Chapter XI of the United Nations charter is scarcely more relevant as only a handful of non-self-governing territories, most of which are marginal in size, location, and importance, remain subject to its provisions. Indeed, the international law of trusteeship has, for the most part, fallen into disuse for the same reason that it is no longer necessary to interpret declarations of colonial policy in order to obtain insight into the obligations of trusteeship. The sovereign state has emerged out of decolonization as the supreme form of political organization in post-colonial international society-an international society in which dominions, colonies, principalities, free cities, and, of course, mandates and trust territories, have all but vanished. To the person who is unacquainted with these historic forms of political association, trusteeship is likely to appear as a remote and obscure practice of the past. We now live in what is truly a universal society of states. But the ostensible failure of this post-colonial project, the fact that the promise of peace and prosperity held out by independent statehood is too often betrayed by appalling violence and absolute poverty, has reinvigorated interest in trusteeship as a way of responding to problems of international disorder and injustice. Thus, the purpose of this chapter is threefold. First, I want to examine the principal dilemma of decolonization that has resulted in a renewed interest in trusteeship. Second, I want to consider this renewed interest in trusteeship in the context of international involvement in administering Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and, until recently, East Timor. Third, and by way of conclusion, I want to reflect upon the normative implications that a resurrected practice of trusteeship carries for a society of states that is premised on the juridical equality of all its members.
Just before the Constituent Assembly of India adopted the state's newly drafted constitution in 1949, B. R. Ambedkar reminded his colleagues of the