Between Salvation and Cynicism: TWAIL Perspectives on International Organizations

This paper surveys the relationship of Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL), in both state practice and scholarship, to international organizations and international organizations law. International organizations exercise far-reaching powers that condition how people are governed in ‘most of the world’. The paper describes the ever more intimate encounters between international organizations and the Third World: the inexorable growth of international organizations’ activities in the Third World, and the rising influence of Third World states and movements in international organizations. It then briefly outlines how the contributions of Third World jurists to scholarship on international organizations and international organizations law have diversified over time, from studies of a relatively narrow doctrinal nature to a wide range of approaches connecting law with politics, history, and theory. Finally, the paper identifies some characteristic features of present-day TWAIL conversations on international organizations, as well as tensions and areas for further exploration.