International Legal System: Third World Countries

The contemporary world is mainly divided into three groups in terms of socio-economic standards. Those are, the group of First World countries, the group of Second World countries and the group of Third World countries. The First World countries are socio economically advanced countries in the human civilization. For instance, Europe, North America and some other developed Christian nations. The Second World countries are the left oriented countries that have developed industrially equivalent to the First World countries. And the Third World countries are the countries still developing even after the end of the Cold War. In recent times, the political economists have distinguished the impoverished countries from Third World by defining as the Fourth World.

In this great contemporary human civilized world, the man has created a democratic law for his existence. As a student of International law, I agree with the term that the contemporary modern society would not exist without International law and its principles, as the great ancient thinker Aristotle had quoted that “the man cannot live without politics and state”. But, every International affairs scholar should acknowledge that the International law and its systems of principles what are in force have become instrumental in the development of countries such as the United States and political and economic hegemony that exerts over the rest of the world. This is the principal rationale why China gives distinct definition to International law since the United Nations has come into existence. To prove it, China has been antithetical to the definition of Oppenheim, who regarded as one of the most celebrated scholars of Public International law in Europe. L.F.L. Oppenheim had defined International law that “International law is the name for the body of customary and conventional rules which are considered legally binding by civilized states in their intercourse with each other”, whereas Chinese International law scholars consider “International law as a tool of the west for economic exploitation and political oppression of the non western nations”.

On the one hand, this discourse is all about the theoretical approach of International law while on the other hand the constructive approach of International law should be examined too. The most fundamental essential thing that every law student must underline in his or her daily research is that International law is intended to safeguard the sovereignty and rights of all the nations of the world by regulating the various global institutions. Here the global institutions are the United Nations and various institutions working under it. We must all remember the thing that, whenever we talk about International law, we should also discuss regarding International relations besides International politics since International law is inseparable from International relations and politics. Global politics affects global legal norms under any circumstances. No International law can avoid the effects whatever occur from the global politics. To make an observation at this point, the Law of Nations has to be examined from the perspective of global politics.

The current International law has been originated from the western legal thinking which has its firm roots in the western colonialism. The colonial states had expanded the western legal thinking all over the world to establish common governance.  With the end of the Second World War, all the colonial states have laid a foundation for a new world order. Once new International legal order arose, the western states have begun utilizing International law to justify their military actions. Mostly, Britain the country which had ruled the globe utilized this International legal order to justify its military actions.

What the Global South has to do?

As per the United Nations charter which is referred as the world constitution, the Security Council is vested with plenty of powers. Since the establishment of the United Nations, the world is being ruled by the decisions of the Security Council which has been granted veto power. In the system of International law, the primary responsibility of International peace and security is given to the Security Council. The International law which is being practiced by the whole world weakens the Global South at the International legal and political platform where the Global South (with notable exception of China) has no participation. In some circumstances, the Security Council is referred as the seat of the imperial powers. The imperial powers which exploited the Global South and won the Second World War have seated as permanent members of the Security Council and controlling the world with economic and political ambitions. Kofi Annan who served as the Secretary General of the United Nations for a decade has called for reformation of the council. He said that “I firmly believe that the council should be reformed: it cannot continue as it is. The world has changed and the United Nations should change and adapt. If we don’t change the council, we risk a situation where the primacy of the council may be challenged by some of the new emerging countries”.

To resist the western made International law, the Global South has to unite and fight against the supremacy of the permanent members of the Security Council. It must become a primary agenda of developed countries of the Global South such as China and Japan. I previously mentioned China as developed nation of the Global South must lead a movement to reform the global institutions. China must act as leader of the Third World to resist the Global North’s dominance.

Concluding remarks:

We are living in the age of Globalization where everything is linked with each other. In recent times, Law and Economics is greatly intertwined with each other. This is the new academic conception which has come into existence in the legal academia. Why I am mentioning above words is that the International law is linked with globalization. Prof Antony Anghie in his writing “Imperialism, Sovereignty and the Making of International law” mentioned that Most of the power lies with the Bretton Woods Institutions where International Court of Justice ICJ lacks jurisdiction to keep an eye on them.

The economic and political requirements of the Global South countries are dictated by the above said institutions. The justice system of the world established by the Law of Nations or International law has been refusing the economic justice which is considered as primary requirement for the Global South.

Nagaraju Vallala
Nagaraju Vallala
The writer is an Indian lawyer and legal author. He is currently pursuing LL.M Human Rights Law. He did his summer course on International Law from the Indian Society of International Law ISIL New Delhi besides the winter course on International Refugee Law. He also holds a diploma program on International Humanitarian Law from one of the prestigious law schools NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, India. He is alo member of the Indian Society of Criminology ISC.