Whose international law is it anyway?

Convened by Carolina Bertazolli, Rishabh Bajoria & Rohit Sarma

Whose interests does international law serve? Is the history of international law a history of collaboration with European colonialism or a response to it? How does colonialism/neo-colonialism continue to inform international law? Can international law be salvaged to further the cause of the global souths? At a time when international law is both admonished for its ineffectiveness and yet routinely called upon to resolve tense political disputes, we contemplate these and other questions through the lens of TWAIL (Third World Approaches to International Law).

TWAIL emerged as an academic movement to counter the dominant narrative of international law as a neutral and benevolent legal instrument. While presenting an alternative history, TWAILers sought to reform international law with the aim of creating a just, fair, and equitable world order.

This reading group series discusses key themes in the scholarship on TWAIL with an attempt to demystify the law and understand its role in maintaining and dismantling hierarchies between the North and the South(s).

The first reading by Antony Anghie starts the conversation by addressing the manner in which colonialism shaped international law and especially its core concept of sovereignty. 

Subsequent readings will be posted after comments, suggestions, and critiques are collected from our fellow travelers.

This discussion series is open to all—academics, activists, and all of us in between.

Session 1: 

  • Text: Antony Anghie, “The Evolution of International Law: Colonial and Postcolonial Realities”
  • Date and time: 20 November 2023, at 18:00 CET.

Note: Further sessions to be discussed.

To join the series, please register here: