International and European Law Research Seminar 2 April 2014
Dr Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua gave a talk on ‘Contributionism or Twailism: A Critical Review of African Perspectives on International Law’
The presentation was devoted to introducing African perspectives into International Law, which has remained to a large extent predominantly Euro-centric in doctrine, theory and practice.
Dr Appiagyei-Atua provided a critique of two main schools developed by African scholarship in reaction to the European ‘hegemonic’ influence in International Law, namely, Contributionism and Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL). The former seeks to reclaim, reconstruct and rehabilitate the neglected and denigrated African past and put it on an even keel with Europe. In so doing it contends that Africans participated in shaping International Law and that their contribution should be thus acknowledged and recognised. The latter, seeks to expose the exploitative side of International Law and present an alternative normative model that pays attention to justice and fairness in order to eradicate conditions of underdevelopment.
Dr Appiagyei-Atua’s critique unravelled a new middle-ground approach, that of recognitionism. This new perspective locates itself within the pre-colonial era to uncover the origins of International Law in Africa and contends that African regions developed notions of primitive International Law within their own limited geographical spaces before contact with Europe and other civilisations.
Dr Appiagyei-Atua concluded by showing how the contributions from Africa and other developing countries are only piecemeal and have mainly come through the United nations system without significantly altering the current International legal order.
Dr Appiagyei-Atua is currently a Marie Curie Fellow at the Centre for Educational Research and Development of the University of Lincoln. He is also Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra. At present he is writing a book entitled Commonwealth African Perspectives on Public International Law.