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Research Seminar - Dr Thamil Ananthavinayagan, Griffith College, Dublin

Location: Room S2.12 Law School, Social Sciences Building

Taming the Beast -the counter-hegemonic approach of TWAIL to encounter nationalisms in international law

Nationalist forces around the world espouse the momentum which favours own bio-power, while they question the legitimacy of international solidarity, international institutions and its underpinning law. The recent rise of right-wing movements that emphasise national survival and monocultural identity rather than global interest is affirming nationalism. Trade wars, international migration and climate change are few conflict fields of these nationalisms. Current diplomacy not only negates cooperation and solidarity, it emphasises supremacy over other nations. Gideon Rachman wrote once that: ‘An international nationalist movement sounds like a contradiction. Nationalists are concerned above all by the fortunes of their own tribe. International co-operation does not come naturally to them. And yet, despite this, the world is seeing the emergence of a “nationalist international”.’

This paper will argue that the rise of nationalism is contributed to the origins of international law. Sovereignty, an imperial concept, allowed self-governance. To this end, speaking with Antony Anghie, sovereignty is the managing regime between the civilised and uncivilised. The development of the sovereignty principle under international law, along with its twin, the right to self-determination, gave rise to nationalism. In fact, nationalism is always caught between universality and particularity. It is universalist, as it allows nations to exist and affirm their existence. The New Economic Order is the revelation of such an universal claim. On the other hand, it is particularist because it always also focuses on a specific nation, excluding and perhaps oppressing other nations.

In consequence, this paper poses the following question: what are the counter-hegemonic approaches of the TWAIL movement to modernise international law, encounter nationalism and provide a fertile ground for what international law should be: international?

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