Fall 2023

Third World Approaches to International Law

Listed in: Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, as LJST-285


Mark Firmani (Section 01)


This course will introduce students to the field of international law via one of its most influential critical traditions: Third World Approaches to International Law, commonly known as TWAIL, which seeks to build solidarity among the countries of the “Third World” by recognizing their shared political reality in the face of European and North American domination. The work of TWAIL scholars has been largely theoretical and historical, arguing that international law has constructed, entrenched, and furthered political and economic subordination around the globe. TWAIL has been, at its heart, a reconstructive movement aimed at remaking international law on nonhierarchical grounds, empowering communities outside of the West to shape the international legal system to better serve a broader range of interests. 

We will explore how the international institutions, norms, and governance of issues encompassing migration, trade, the environment, and more reflect the continued salience of racial hierarchies in establishing and responding to the conditions of crisis;  trace how the ravages of climate catastrophe travel through and entrench circuits of exploitation; and investigate contemporary international legal approaches to governing armed conflict and state violence such as sanctions programs, probing whether and how they fulfill their purported humanitarian promise. We will focus on whether and how a TWAIL approach to international law-making might offer resources for refashioning the international legal system,  contemplate the limitations of a TWAIL approach, and respond to critiques of this critical movement. 

Pending Faculty Approval

LJST 285 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 1:00 PM - 2:20 PM JOCH 202
Th 1:00 PM - 2:20 PM JOCH 202


Other years: Offered in Fall 2023