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TWAIL: a Paradox within a Paradox

In: International Community Law Review
Author:
Mohsen al Attar Associate Professor, School of Law, University of Warwick Coventry UK

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Abstract

What insight do critical perspectives bring to international legal theory? In the following article, I answer this question through an examination of Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL). Troubled by geopolitical imbalance in the enterprise of international law, a group of critically minded scholars sought to expand the scope of legal scholarship. They would do so by growing a scholarly community sensitive to Third World concerns in their engagement with international law. Movements are known to collapse just as quickly as they sprout and it is testament to TWAIL’s force that, twenty years on, it is still gaining momentum. Self-described as a theory, method, sensibility, movement, and, as per the moniker, approach, TWAIL’s place in legal theory remains ambiguous. Drawing on a range of TWAIL scholars as well as journeymen commentators, I investigate, first, how its scholars represent TWAIL’s theoretical credentials and, second, where its contribution fits in the field.

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