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Critically discuss the contributions of the Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) movement to international legal scholarship

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  1. Introduction
  2. The three objectives of TWAIL
  3. The influence of TWAIL
  4. Contributions of TWAIL
  5. The central issue of the TWAIL scholars
  6. The real impact of TWAIL actions
  7. Criticisms against TWAIL
  8. Conclusion
  9. Bibliography

After the World War II and its atrocities, a new international institution, the United Nations (UN) was created in 1945 to focus on the new challenges faced by the international community. One of the major challenges was the wave of decolonization which started between the two World wars. It was particularly difficult and painful for the two states, the colonial state and the colonizer state. International law and more precisely the UN charter were requested by the post-colonial States to justify their anti-colonial struggle and their right to self-determination.

These new independent States, most of time grouped under the label Third World, tried through the project of ?Nation Building? to ?catch up with the West? . This means that during the second part of the 20th century, the Third World was doing everything to become a strong State with its own kingly prerogatives, and to narrow the gap between the North, i.e. the United States and Europe and the South equivalent to the Third World. By the end of the 1980's, some scholars coming from the Third World proposed a critical approach to the grounds of the International law, saying that International law was firmly grounded in its colonial origins. Indeed, International law brought justifications for invasion and colonization by the Europeans. Now that the process of decolonization came to an end, at least in theory, it is time to rethink the foundations of International law.

[...] Through the influence of TWAIL scholars such as Makau Mutua or Antony Anghie[17], mentalities are changing and head of states of the Third World are more willing to bring their claims and to defend their interests because they now have theoretical back up to challenge the dominant doctrine practically. Nevertheless, it takes a long time to be effective as shows the debate about the membership of the Security Council where there is no African State among the permanent members. In fact, the Security Council in its current structure carries on the traditional pattern between the Third World and the hegemonic West. [...]


[...] Whereas writers considering themselves as members of the TWAIL movement express various theories, they all share a common feeling; an anger against the injustices committed to the Third World whatever is the area of International law concerned[8]. However if the Third World approaches are gradually taken into account, its contributions are sometimes smeared of weaknesses due to the youth of the movement as well as its own contradictions. TWAIL brought its important contributions on the evolution of the conflicting forces which are running International law. [...]


[...] Through the point of view of Third World scholars, to characterize the failure of our International law system might be for once, a unique opportunity to give those who were subjected to a system created to justify their submission to assert their right to speak. Before observing the characteristics of their interventions, we should keep in mind that they want to emphasize the full richness of a diverse and complex world. This refers to the non-uniformity of the Third World. [...]

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