Rupturing International Law to Realise the Right to Development

Author Isaac Shai

ISSN: 2522-3062
Affiliations: BA (University of the Witwatersrand); LLB (University of the Witwatersrand); LLM (University of South Africa); LLD (University of Pretoria). Postdoctoral Fellow, Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute.
Source: Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa, The, Volume 51 Issue 2, p. 151 – 168


The realisation of the right to development is contingent on the appropriation of the excesses generated by the counter-imperial dimension of international law and on the strategic rupturing of international law. Embedded in this approach is the implicit acceptance that the right to development is a derivative of international law and that international law has an imperial dimension. There is in this sense a golden thread that uninterruptedly connects colonialism, international law and the notion of development. This is buttressed by the fact that international law was the mode within which calls for decolonisation were couched. In addition, post-colonial states advanced arguments for decolonisation using the medium of development under the auspices of international law. In this sense, decolonisation was effected using the language of development. In order to avert re-inscribing the very imperial dimension of international law that must be disrupted, the notion of the right to development ought to treat the excesses generated by international law as political opportunities rather than legal ones. In this sense, law becomes a political strategy as opposed to a legal strategy.