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Decolonising International Law
Development, Economic Growth and the Politics of Universality

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Part of Cambridge Studies in International and Comparative Law

  • Date Published: October 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107657472

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About the Authors
  • The universal promise of contemporary international law has long inspired countries of the Global South to use it as an important field of contestation over global inequality. Taking three central examples, Sundhya Pahuja argues that this promise has been subsumed within a universal claim for a particular way of life by the idea of 'development'. As the horizon of the promised transformation and concomitant equality has receded ever further, international law has legitimised an ever-increasing sphere of intervention in the Third World. The post-war wave of decolonisation ended in the creation of the developmental nation-state, the claim to permanent sovereignty over natural resources in the 1950s and 1960s was transformed into the protection of foreign investors, and the promotion of the rule of international law in the early 1990s has brought about the rise of the rule of law as a development strategy in the present day.

    • Proposes a sophisticated theory of international law that will appeal to those who are critical of international law but do not wish to abandon it as a site of political struggle
    • Proposes a new theory of the relationship between international law and development that does not give up on the promise of global justice
    • Interdisciplinary approach to international law, combining postcolonial, historical and political-economic theories, provides readers with a sense of the interaction between the intellectual and institutional developments of the international domain over the past seventy years
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    • Winner of the American Society of International Law's 2012 Certificate of Merit

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This important and timely book is thoroughly researched, methodically written, and both instructive and convincing.' Muin Boase and Mansur Boase, European Journal of International Law

    'This book is a critical, thought-provoking and well-written account of how the post-Second World War international law and institutions have been used by the West (an imagined community itself) to construct and impose a new rational truth based on particular values, norms and socio-political organisations that were defined as universal … The core part of the book is a very lucid analysis of three cases in which relevant concepts and processes defended by the Third World with a potentially destabilizing nature, in the end were captured by the West and turned into instruments at its service rather than as catalysers of change.' Felipe Gómez Isa, Peacebuilding

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107657472
    • length: 320 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.43kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Inaugurating a new rationality
    3. From decolonisation to developmental nation state
    4. From permanent sovereignty to investor protection
    5. From the rule of international law to the internationalisation of the rule of law
    6. Conclusion.

  • Author

    Sundhya Pahuja, University of Melbourne
    Sundhya Pahuja is the Director of the Law and Development Research Programme at the Institute for International Law and the Humanities at the University of Melbourne and Visiting Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London.


    • Winner of the American Society of International Law's 2012 Certificate of Merit

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