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The concept of development has been crucial to structuring international legal relations from the end of World War II to the present day. During that time, international law and institutions have taken on ‘development’ as a primary project. In both the public and economic domains, the vast majority of international institutions engage with the development project in some shape or form.
This subject invites students to think about the nature and importance of development and its relation to international law. The history of development in relation to imperialism, decolonisation, the Cold War and globalisation means that this set of relations is complex and dynamic. Understanding it is crucial to understanding the place of international law, and the work development does in the contemporary world.
Principal topics include:
- Law and development as a field
- The ‘development’ concept and its precursors
- The relationship between the concepts of ‘law’ and ‘development’
- The institutionalisation of development
- Development, imperialism, decolonisation and the nation state
- Permanent sovereignty over natural resources and the new international economic order
- Debt crises and development(s) at the Bretton Wood institutions
- Trade and development
- Globalisation, governance and the rule of law
- Sustainability, democracy and human rights
- Resistance, alternatives and post-development.
Intended learning outcomes
This subject will provide a conceptual, historical and theoretical frame for students undertaking Master of Law and Development in which to situate and critically assess learning in other subjects. For students in other courses, this subject will help you understand the importance of the concept of development to our understandings of international law and appreciate development’s central role in the construction and maintenance of contemporary global orderings.
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and detailed knowledge of the range of processes and actors involved in the institutionalisation of development
- Have a sophisticated and integrated understanding of the role of international institutions, particularly the United Nations (UN), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO) with respect to development
- Have a critical and analytical appreciation of the historical context and range of theories of law and development propounded by international institutions
- Have the capacity to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effects, both intended and unintended, of particular development initiatives
- Have a detailed knowledge of a range of theoretical approaches to understanding and critiquing law and development initiatives
- Be an engaged participant in debates around the legal and political economic dimensions of global inequality.
Last updated: 10 November 2023