The State and International Law: A Reading from the Global South

Abstract: In this essay we re-describe the relationship between international law and the state, reversing the usual imagined directionality of the flow between the two. At its most provocative, our argument is that rather than international law being a creation of the state, making the state is an ongoing project of international law. In the essay, we pay particular attention to the institutionalised project of development in order to illuminate the ways in which international law gives form to, and actualises, states, and then recirculates from a multiplicity of points “within” them.

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About Luis Eslava

Luis Eslava is Reader in International Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Critical International Law at Kent Law School. He also holds visiting positions at Melbourne Law School and Universidad Externado de Colombia, and teaches regularly at the Institute for Global Law and Policy, Harvard Law School. His research explores the ways in which international norms and practices shape our everyday lives, and the multiple forms of resistance that accompany this process. He is a co-editor of Bandung, Global History and International Law (Cambridge 2017), and author of Local Space, Global Life (Cambridge 2015), which won the 2016 Hart–SLSA Socio-Legal Book Prize.

About Sundhya Pahuja

Sundhya Pahuja is Professor and Director of the Institute for International Law and the Humanities at Melbourne Law School. Her publications include the prize-winning Decolonising International Law (Cambridge 2011) and the co-edited collections International Law and the Cold War (Cambridge 2019) and Reading Modern Law, and Events: The Force of International Law. In 2019, Sundhya delivered the Newman Oration at Yale, and was a Fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies. In 2018, Sundhya delivered the Lauterpacht Memorial Lectures at Cambridge, and in 2017, was a Fulbright Scholar at the Harvard Institute for Global Law and Policy.