Developing Countries and International Law
- Shirley V. ScottShirley V. ScottSchool of Humanities and Social Sciences, UNSW Canberra
- and Orli ZahavaOrli ZahavaSchool of Humanities and Social Sciences, UNSW Canberra
The most fundamental characteristic of a developing state is that its income, usually calculated as gross national product (GNP) per capita, is relatively low in comparison with that of an industrial country. A second characteristic shared by most developing countries is that they are former colonies. In recognition of the diversity amongst developing countries, they are sometimes divided into subgroups. The term “Least Developed Country” is used to refer to some 50 of the most vulnerable states, whose economies are vastly smaller than those of China, India, Brazil, or Mexico. The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) is a group of states with emerging economies whose share of world trade, investment, and foreign currency reserve is projected to continue to grow. AOSIS, the Alliance of Small Island States, is a 44-member coalition that functions as a negotiating voice for small island developing states (SIDS) within the United Nations system. The engagement of developing countries with international law typically comes in four aspects: the colonial past and contemporary continuities in international legal approaches and categories, attempts by newly independent Third World states to transform international law through the introduction of specific new legal principles, the effect of the increasing gap between the emerging economies of certain developing countries and the most vulnerable developing states, and whether structural impediments remain to the equitable participation of developing countries in international law.