Asia's Ambivalence About International Law & Institutions: Past, Present, and Futures
European Journal of International Law, 27(4) (2016), 945-978
NUS - Centre for Asian Legal Studies Working Paper No. 15/09
39 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2015 Last revised: 31 Jan 2017
Date Written: January 13, 2017
Asian states are the least likely of any regional grouping to be party to most international obligations or to have representation reflecting their number and size in international organizations. That is despite the fact that Asian states have arguably benefited most from the security and economic dividends provided by international law and institutions. This article explores the reasons for Asia’s under-participation and under-representation. The first part traces the history of Asia’s engagement with international law. The second part assesses Asia’s current engagement with international law and institutions, examining whether its under-participation and under-representation is in fact significant and how it might be explained. The third part considers possible future developments based on three different scenarios, referred to here as status quo, divergence and convergence. Convergence is held to be the most likely future, indicating adaptation on the part of Asian states as well as on the part of the international legal order.
Keywords: international law, international organization, Asia, regional integration, dispute resolution, ASEAN, colonialism
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