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Naz Khatoon Modirzadeh, '[L]et Us All Agree to Die a Little': TWAIL's Unfulfilled Promise, 65 Harv. Int'l L.J. 79 (2023).

Abstract: Third World Approaches to International Law (“TWAIL”) has aspirations to transform the tools and institutions of international law—which have served for centuries to construct, enact, and extend Western exploitation and domination—into tools and institutions for Global South empowerment, agency, and freedom. Characterizing itself as an intellectual and political movement, TWAIL promises to pave a path forward through a combination of scholarship and politics to achieve radical change. In this Article, I argue that TWAIL’s promise is unfulfilled—and that, if TWAIL’s current trajectory continues, its promise is likely to be unfulfillable. I first sketch TWAIL’s origin and key successes, including bringing awareness to the colonial roots and neo-imperial present of international law. Yet I contend that TWAIL’s diverse critical insights have not led to cohesive conceptual, doctrinal, or political positions, which would serve as tools to empower Global South-based actors. I propose that this is, at least partly, due to TWAIL’s ambivalence toward the Third World state, its absence of a theory of legitimate political violence in international law, its failure to identify a methodology of representing the ‘voices’ of the Global South, and the growing influence of an academic ethos I call ‘critique-as-wellness.’ For those motivated by TWAIL’s ambitions, I suggest three possible directions to take: the construction of a grassroots-centered campaign in the service of Global South peoples; the formation of a movement focused on empowering Global South states; or a coalition originating from the Global North aimed at reshaping Western attitudes and actions toward the Global South.