The National University of Singapore Faculty of Law is pleased to host the Conference on “Third World Approaches to International Law” (TWAIL Singapore) which will take place from Thursday, July 19 to Saturday, July 21, 2018 at the NUS Faculty of Law. The 3-day Conference will be held from 9.00am to 5.00pm.


When the first TWAIL Conference was held in 1997, globalization was triumphant, the Tadić decision was handed down, state reconstruction was a major UN preoccupation, the Asian Financial Crisis devastated many countries and the United States was globally supreme. Since that time, TWAIL scholars have responded to a complex and rapidly changing international environment by producing a wide-ranging, distinctive and powerful body of work which has reconsidered the conventional wisdoms of international law and its operations.


Seeking to further and enrich the distinguished tradition of their TWAIL predecessors, contemporary TWAIL scholars have written on almost every significant area and concern of international law including globalization, gender, human rights, governance, the laws of war, development, international organizations, global governance, international law and resistance, foreign investment, intervention and state building, the environment and international criminal law.  


Unlike any other tradition in international law, it has made the plight of the Third World the basis of its epistemology and approach and in this way has produced incisive work, both grounded and theoretical, on all these topics. TWAIL scholarship has always been interdisciplinary, drawing on various traditions such as post-colonialism, feminisim and Marxism. And it has also both stimulated and engaged with scholarship in the history and theory of international law, literature, political theory and global history, by pointing to the centrality of imperialism for the formation and theorizing of the international order.


TWAIL work has developed a powerful and distinctive set of analytical tools to uncover both the potentials and limitations of international law in addressing compelling issues of global justice. Crucially, many traditional TWAIL concerns have become even more urgent as issues that were previously thought of as `third world problems’ such as inequality, austerity, nationalism and security, are now `global problems’.  While TWAIL has accomplished much in the last 21 years, it is also very much an ongoing and evolving project. It has not dealt adequately, for instance, with the plight of indigenous peoples or labour issues.  Clearly, far more work needs to be done. 


As such, this Conference will be principally concerned to evaluate and assess the past, present and future of TWAIL, this as one of a series of TWAIL related events held in various parts of the world.  It follows the conferences held in Harvard, Toronto, Albany, Vancouver, Oregon and Cairo. 


As the first TWAIL Conference to be held in Asia, papers dealing with Asian issues and themes will be especially welcome. TWAIL Singapore will also further collaborations with TWAIL scholars from Africa, Latin America and the Pacific.