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26 Pages

AGORA: IS THERE AN ASIAN APPROACH TO INTERNATIONAL LAW?

The creation of the Asian Society of International Law (AsianSIL) in 2007 is, among other things, a reflection of the growing role of and interest in international law in the region, albeit the Foundation for the Development of International Law in Asia (DILA, established in 1989) and national societies of international law (for example in India, Japan, Korea and Philippines) have existed in the region for decades.1 The launch of new journals and the growing scholarship in international law in the region also manifest this trend.2 ASIL is also in many ways an institutional expression of the increasing influence of the Asian region, in particular the emerging economies of China and India, in international relations and in the international law-making process. The general trend of regionalization of international relations has also contributed to the felt need for an ASIL. In the backdrop of growing interest in international law in the Asian region this comment explores the theme of a distinctive Asian approach to international law over and beyond a third world approach to international law (TWAIL) that has now been articulated for over six decades. The three consistent themes of TWAIL, rooted in the lived experiences of the third world peoples, are anti-imperialism, the demand for the greater

* This is a revised version of a paper written for the Second Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law held in Tokyo from 1-2 August, 2009. 1 The aims and purposes of DILA are: promotion of the study and analysis of topics and issues in the field of international law, in particular from an Asian perspective; promotion of the study of, and the dissemination of knowledge of, international law in Asia; and promotion of contacts and cooperation between persons and institutions actively dealing with questions of international law relating to Asia. DILA publishes the Asian Yearbook of International Law. See http:// dilafoundation.org/dilas-constitution. 2 The new journals include the Chinese Journal of International Law and Journal of East Asia and International Law. The AsianSIL has already taken the decision to start an Asian Journal of International Law. Other journals such as the Asian Yearbook of International Law, Japanese Yearbook of International Law, Indian Journal of International Law, Singapore Journal of International and Comparative Law, Philippine Journal of International Law have existed for some time.