In advancing a Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) analysis of customary international law (CIL) and its dominant doctrinal conceits, B.S. Chimni shows how the jurisprudence of custom has been co-constitutive with colonization and capitalism. He contends that CIL's most fundamental assumption—the “supposed distinction between ‘formal’ and ‘material’ sources of CIL”—privileges Western states while legitimizing CIL as a neutral and universal body of law. In dialogue with Chimni, this essay extends the conversation in two directions. First, I show that there are important resonances between Chimni's deconstruction of the distinction between “formal” and “material” sources of CIL, and a feminist critique of the public/private distinction in international law. Chimni describes his approach as postmodern. I argue that its analysis of the conceptual architecture of the dominant doctrine and its systematic exclusions is also, at its core, a feminist approach to international law. Second, and inspired by Chimni's critique, I explore insurgent jurisprudential traditions that challenge the hierarchies, inequalities, and biases in received doctrine regarding the sources of CIL. Chimni's decolonial approach acknowledges CIL's imperial past, and prepares the ground for democratizing and pluralizing sources by paying attention to a so-called opinio juris communis that incorporates the interests of those critical of, or oppressed by, the dominant world order. Building on this ground, I draw on the Panchsheel principles, first nations’ conceptions of sovereignty and citizenship, and practices of fugitive freedom by maroon communities to begin to supply content and form to a counterrepertoire of custom.
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