Monday, September 16, 2019

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Article Index

I. Race and Racism in International Law

Today, the ills from centuries of harms from slavery, genocide, colonialism, apartheid, and racism are coming to light as new voices replace old histories. Critical race theory, Third World Approaches to International Law (“TWAIL”), and other schools of thought have shown how race, racism, and racial ideology have played critical jurisgenerative roles in the development of human rights and of international law more broadly. An accurate view of the history of human rights and international law requires recognizing the history of those people who contributed to its development, even as the law perpetuated the very abuses it proposed to eradicate--namely slavery, colonialism, and apartheid--upon them. Law was definitively shaped by these tragedies and an appropriate historiography includes them as part of the diverse history of international human rights law. This section aims to trace the contours of this broad and rich history of international law over several centuries, covering the rise of sovereignty, the prohibition of slavery, the persistence of colonialism, and the banning of apartheid, while recognizing that the story that follows is neither linear nor complete. Doing so reveals that international law, and international human rights law therein, are not racially neutral.

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Vernellia R. Randall
Founder and Editor
Professor Emerita of Law
The University of Dayton School of Law

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