Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) (February 2015)


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Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) Conference On Praxis and the Intellectual

The American University in Cairo, Egypt
24 February 2015

The first TWAIL conference in the global South will be held in Cairo from 21 to 24 February 2015. In the context of the ongoing revolutionary processes across the Middle East and North Africa, the thematic focus of the conference is that of the intellectual as a political actor: the animation of praxis, broadly conceived as reflection, agitation, and transformative action.

The keynote speakers will be the Nathanson Centre’s own Professor Obiora Chinedu Okafor as well as Professor Georges Abi-Saab.

The conference will be hosted by the Department of Law at the American University in Cairo, with the support of the Nathanson Centre, Osgoode Hall Law School, the National University of Ireland Maynooth, and the University of Windsor.

The conference is also generously supported by a SSHRC Connection Grant.

The conference organizers are: Usha Natarajan (AUC), Sujith Xavier (Windsor/Former Nathanson Fellow), John Reynolds (NUIM), and Amar Bhatia (Osgoode/Nathanson).

The call for papers is closed. Please see the conference website for all important details, including keynote bios and the draft program, at:


Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) is a movement encompassing scholars and practitioners of international law and policy who are concerned with issues related to the global South. The scholarly agendas associated with TWAIL are diverse but the general theme of its interventions is to unpack and deconstruct the colonial legacies of international law and engage in decolonizing efforts. The term was coined in the 1990s through an alliance of scholars committed to critically investigating the mutually constitutive relationship between international law and the third world/global South. For legal projects operating at the margins of the mainstream discipline, the TWAIL network enables solidarity and mutual support through a shared political commitment to advocating for the interests of the global South. It endeavors to give voice to viewpoints systemically underrepresented or silenced. The group first met at Harvard Law School in 1997 and has grown rapidly since then, with conferences at Osgoode Hall Law School in 2001, Albany Law School in 2007, University of British Columbia in 2008, Paris in 2010, and Oregon Law School in 2011. This conference brings together the first major gathering of TWAIL scholars in the global South. Building upon past TWAIL events, and with praxis in mind, the conference aims to provide the space for scholars to continue to collaborate and conspire.

TWAIL in the Middle East & North Africa

International law has played a pivotal role in shaping the Middle East and North African region, from its borders and its politics to its economics and its natural environment. Changing regional dynamics in recent years highlight the critical space that the region continues to occupy in international affairs. Young Arab and African scholars, practitioners and activists persistently interrogate and productively engage with an international system that has played a complex and often detrimental role in local struggles for equality and social justice. As the region evolves through a time of change, TWAIL can shed light on the conservative, transformative, and radical potential of international law and policy. Additionally, while Arab scholars and jurists such as Mohammed Bedjaoui and Georges Abi-Saab were integral to the underpinnings of TWAIL, voices from the region remain relatively under-represented in contemporary TWAIL scholarship. This conference aims to encourage and highlight the work of young Arab and African scholars of international law, linking them with each other and with existing global networks of research and support. The hope is to connect, in a mutually beneficial fashion, innovative thinking and critical practice on international law and policy from the Middle East and North Africa with that in the rest of the world.

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