Crawford, TWAIL, and Sovereign Equality of States: Similarity and Differences

In: The Australian Year Book of International Law Online
Chhaya Bhardwaj Associate Professor, Jindal Global Law School

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Abhinav Mehrotra Assistant Professor, Jindal Global Law School

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This article draws parallel between Crawford and Third World Approach of International Law (TWAIL)’s position of “sovereign equality of states” that has been the defining characteristic of the international system. Both TWAIL and Crawford have underscored the importance of “sovereign equality of states” in international law, specifically for states who may not have equitable resources or power in comparison to the most powerful states that can be seen through the abject poverty faced by these states. The core of the issue being the concentration of power with the powerful states in the international legal, political, and economic order.

Both TWAIL and Crawford have repeatedly highlighted the legacy like negative consequences of colonization and de-colonization on states and the individuals residing within these states as their responsibility gets shifted to the government and the legal system of the new state. As a result, their ability to effectively practice “sovereignty and equality” gets affected as it is contingent upon the acceptance by other states or the international community.

However, Crawford puts away this intersectionality during his work at the International Law Commission (ILC), when “sovereign equality of states” does not make it to the ILC’s list of peremptory norms. Similarly, TWAIL, call for the need for dialogue to establish content of the universally accepted norms like sovereign equality to fully represent the voices of the non-state; non-governmental, rural, and urban poor residing in the third world countries. In this context, the authors attempt to identify whether this similarity is real or circumstantial?

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