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How the UN Trusteeship Council might have shaped a substantive decolonization—and why it didn’t

Thursday, April 28, 2022 at 11:25am to 12:40pm

Uris Hall, G08
Central Campus

This is a hybrid event. Registration information is below.

This talk sheds light on what various actors engaged with the United Nations trusteeship system wanted decolonization to mean, what they thought, or hoped, it should mean, and their contests of power over normalizing its meaning. The speaker will explain the importance of the UN trusteeship system in establishing decolonizing norms, particularly the meaning of universal rights within those norms. In opting not to address land claims and abuse of power complaints that petitioners brought to its attention, the Trusteeship Council created a precedent for excluding substantive rights from decolonization’s meaning in international law. This talk will elucidate what decolonization could mean within the trusteeship system, by examining the making of Italian Somaliland’s trusteeship agreement within the Trusteeship Council.

About the speakers

Meredith Terretta, is Professor of History at the University of Ottawa. She examines transregional legal and rights activism, both past and contemporary. Professor Terretta is now co-editing, with Dr. Samuel Moyn, The Cambridge World History of Rights, Volume 5: The Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries.  Her work appearing this academic year includes a special issue on African Refuge for the Canadian Journal of African Studies, co-edited with Dr. Philip Janzen, as well as single-authored articles on rights, international law, and decolonization in The Law and History Review; the Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East; and the Humanity Journal: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development.

This seminar is part of the spring seminar series with the Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS).

Register here

In accordance with university event guidance, all campus visitors who are 12 years old or older must also present a photo ID, as well as proof of vaccination for COVID-19 or results of a recent negative COVID-19 test. If you are not currently participating in the Cornell campus vaccination/testing program, please bring proof of vaccination or the results of a recent negative test.

Dial-In Information

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Event Type



Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, Government, Science and Technology Studies, Institute for African Development

University Themes

Public Engagement, Research


cascal, GOVT, Ein, sts, soccal, rep, govtcal



Contact E-Mail


Meredith Terretta

Disability Access Information

Wheelchair accessible from Tower Road, and from the back of the building across The Statler Hotel. For additional requests please

Registration Status


Open To


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