Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Ben J. Scott

First Page



Haiti faces many challenges in its attempt to build a stable, liberal democracy. Haitians have endured a legacy of chaotic and heavy-handed rule in recent decades, and the success of democracy in Haiti is both hoped for and doubted by Haitians and the international community. One reason for the doubts has been the failure of the Haitian government successfully to implement free and fair elections. Citizens and candidates are often hesitant even to participate in elections. Though both were tragic, neither the failed legislative and presidential elections of 2000, nor the subsequent coup d'etat in 2004 that resulted in the ouster of President Jean Bertrand-Aristide were particularly unique in Haiti's history. In order for Haiti to implement elections in a manner that creates legitimate leaders and an engaged electorate, the rule of law and the order of the Haitian Constitution must be enforced.

This Note argues that while far from perfect, the Haitian judiciary has the potential to play the most vital role in the institutional stabilization and democratization of Haiti. As judges are not subject to election, Haiti's judicial system stands at an arm's length from the government's suspicious electoral practices. The judiciary has already achieved a relatively impressive level of competence as demonstrated in the Raboteau trail of 2000, and it is the most promising of Haiti's governmental institutions to foster the rule of law and electoral stability. Haiti is in a truly desperate condition and requires steps toward authentic democratization to put its government and its people on the road to success. Judicial implementation and enforcement of a potent and reasonable body of electoral and constitutional law is a good first step, and the Haitian judicial system may be able to lead the way to electoral success in Haiti.