Tag Archive for: Colonialim

Colonialism and German PIL (4) – Exploiting Asymmetries Between Global North and South

This post is part of a series regarding Colonialism and the general structure of (German) Private International Law, based on a presentation I gave in spring 2023. See the introduction here.

As mentioned in the introduction, this series does not intent to automatically pass judgment on a norm or method influenced by colonialism as inherently negative. Instead, the aim is to reveal these influences and to initiate a first engagement with and awareness of this topic and to stimulate a discussion and reflection.

The first post (after the introduction) dealt with classic PIL and colonialism. This second considered structures and values inherent in German or European law, implicitly resonating within the PIL and, thus, expanding those values to people and cases from other parts of the world.  The third category discusses an imagined hierarchy between the Global North and Global South that is sometimes inherent in private international law thinking. The fourth and for the moment last (but not least) category deals with PIL rules that allow or at least contribute to the exploitation of a power asymmetry between parties from the Global North and the Global South. For example, this power and negotiation asymmetry, in conjunction with generous rules on party autonomy, can lead to arbitration and choice of law clauses being (ab)used to effectively undermine rights of land use under traditional tribal law.

After the first post, in the comment section a discussion evolved regarding the (non-)application of tribal law. One question asked for an example. This post can also (hopefully) serve as such an example.

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