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Third World Quarterly. Volume 27, Number 5 (2006), p. 799-814.


African Peoples; International law; poverty


This article enquires into the likely posture of future international law with respect to African peoples. It does so by focusing on three of the most important issues that have defined, and are likely to continue to define, international law’s engagement with Africans. These are: the grinding poverty in which most Africans live, the question of agency in their historical search for dignity, and the extent to which these African peoples can effectively resist externally imposed frameworks and measures that have negative effects on their social, economic and political experience. International law’s future posture in these respects is considered through an examination of concrete debates relating to agricultural subsidies, debt usury and relief therefrom, and the relocation of framework socioeconomic governance of almost every African state to external institutions. Insights about what the future holds for the effectiveness of Third World resistance are derived from a consideration of the broad lessons that can be learned from the successes or failures of some past Third World struggles.

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