From Resistance to Renewal: The Third World, Social Movements and the Expansion of International Institutions
Harvard International Law Journal, Vol. 41, No. 2, p. 529, Spring 2000
27 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2005
One of the most significant aspects of 20th century international law is its institutionalization, through international courts and bureaucracies, from international economic law to human rights law. In this article, I attempt to examine a very specific instance of recent international institutional expansion, from roughly late-1960s to 1990s, to see what factors propelled their expansion. This instance relates to the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs), including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). By examining these institutional expansions, I hope to raise some fundamental questions about how international institutional change is explained within the discipline of international law, and whether such explanations take the 'local' seriously as an agent of change. It is my argument in this article that the expansion and the renewal of international institutions can not be understood in isolation from Third World resistance. Indeed, I claim that social movements from the Third World in areas ranging from peasant rebellions, environmental movements to human rights movements, have propelled the expansion of international institutions since the late 1960s. In other words, the very architecture of contemporary international law has been constituted by its continuous evocation of and interaction with the category 'Third World' which has included not only states, but also these social movements. In putting forth this claim, this article departs in a number of significant ways from extant analyses of international institutions. I also intend my attempt to introduce the notion of social movements in international law, as a first step in articulating some ways of rethinking the place of the 'Third World' in international law.
Keywords: International Law, International Institutions, Social Movements, Development, Third World
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