From Bandung to Kiev: Revisiting Imperialism – JURIST – Commentary

Dr. Thamil Ananthavinayagan, training affiliate at the College of Nottingham College of Regulation, compares Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to other acts of international imperialism following the Bandung minute…

I. Introduction

The world’s attention is concentrated on Ukraine and the vicious war ravaging the place, forcing thousands and thousands of people to flee. But is this Russian invasion diverse than other invasions by a big world power in phrases of violations of intercontinental regulation?

It is and it is not. On the one particular hand, the Russian imperialism in Ukraine in 2022 has contributed to the unification of the Western earth, whilst the US imperialism in Iraq in 2003 led to the fragmentation the Western planet. Additionally, Russian imperialism has all of a sudden led to a large militarization and raise in paying out on defense budgets, as seen in Germany. On the other hand, both equally invasions reveal a commonality: it is about hegemony in legislation, perpetuated by imperialism.

II. Bandung and Imperialism

For men and women from the Global South, imperialism was and is the central thing to consider of worldwide regulation and is made use of by the European states to boost their electrical power pursuits. To this conclusion, “the simple paradox within worldwide law intended that it could incorporate a universalist façade with discriminatory and imperialistic methods.”

The Bandung meeting in 1955 constituted a watershed moment of World South states to make a united entrance towards imperialism. But, towards this track record, how does Kiev relate to Bandung? Bandung was the birthplace of the 3rd World Methods to Intercontinental Regulation, and as Makau Mutua has forcefully said, it was the affirmation against imperialism of any type. The Communiqué 1955 held:

1. The Asian-African Meeting talked about the complications of dependent peoples and colonialism and the evils arising from the subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation.

The Meeting is agreed:

(a) in declaring that colonialism in all its manifestations is an evil which should speedily be introduced to an close

(b) in affirming that the subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of elementary human legal rights, is opposite to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of earth peace and co-procedure [emphasis added]

(c) in declaring its assist of the induce of freedom and independence for all this kind of peoples, and peoples, and

(d) in calling upon the powers concerned to grant independence and independence to these types of peoples.

The crucial impetus of Bandung was to resist hegemony and the imposition of imperial techniques that have dominated the Worldwide South. The Bandung minute has, however, long vanished. 3rd-entire world elitism and publish-1945 imperialism have manipulated ambitions of the World South to ascertain their faith in a self-determined trend. Whilst Bandung was about depicting the future of 3rd planet, the post-spirit of Bandung was a “transnational exercise that surfaced owing to interwar political and cultural currents in the Western earth.” But the Bandung moment builds the bridge to the recent war in Ukraine. The war in Ukraine is a violation of the Bandung principles and its feeling conveyed solidarity among oppressed persons.

Present software of worldwide legislation does have interaction in a confined perception of recognition of realities, and “international legislation has demonstrated commonly ineffectual when it arrives to checking fantastic powers’ actions.” The eyesight of genuine peace, which consists of the absence of proxy wars, encompasses intercontinental cooperation guided by a moral compass to urgently handle the Ukrainian situation to remove any makes an attempt to seize international law as an personal intention of hegemony.

III. Hegemony, Wars and the Racialization of the Refugee

The present-day war in Ukraine reveals the selective preference on international regulation. It was Anthony Anghie who postulated, “The United States denies imperial ambitions mainly because, it claims, it is not intent on colonizing the Iraqi individuals but alternatively, on restoring their sovereignty by guiding them toward self-federal government.”

The rhetoric of the 2003 invasion is related to the one particular in 2022. Previous Vice President Cheney explained, on the verge of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, “I believe factors have gotten so undesirable inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” In President Putin’s speech that ushered in the war in 2022, he mentioned: “The so-referred to as civilised world…prefers to overlook it as if there were being none of this horror, genocide that nearly four million folks are staying subjected to.” One particular miracles in which the “liberation” rhetoric was when grave human rights violations occurred in Palestine, Sri Lanka or Mali. Liberation rhetoric beneath global regulation (and the civilization doctrine as its requisite) are features of this legislation to guideline hegemony to manifest their superiority to dominate the very exact legislation. It is hegemonic contestation underneath international regulation.

Marti Koskenniemi writes in opposition to this track record:

By “hegemonic contestation” I necessarily mean the approach by which international actors routinely challenge every other by invoking authorized regulations and principles on which they have projected meanings that aid their tastes and counteract individuals of their opponents. In regulation, political wrestle is waged on what legal phrases such as “aggression,” “self‐determination,” “self‐defence,” “terrorist” or jus cogens necessarily mean, whose policy will they contain, whose will they oppose. To imagine of this wrestle as hegemonic is to understand that the goal of the contestants is to make their partial perspective of that that means appear as the total look at, their desire appear to be like the common choice.

What the two politicians—Cheney and Putin—try to achieve is to portray their partial and selective perspective as full view of the legislation. The Trojan horse of global authorized language is “humanitarian intervention” to make it palatable to the broader general public. But the accurate vision is hegemony of its possess form. The distortion of the legislation is the only legit way to put an end to what they want the globe to see and grasp as violations of intercontinental law—and this is imperialistic. Both equally employed the language of international legislation to match their ability reasons and develop a environment order that resembles their respective globe sights. And it is particularly below that Bandung and Kiev fulfill: the idea of resisting any sort of imperialistic tactics wherever worldwide law is utilized to accommodate their electric power passions and visions.

But why does media give extra focus to Ukraine? Why are politicians so apt to deal with the war in Ukraine as opposed to the other wars and conflicts in the planet? What about Palestine? What about Sri Lanka? What about Mali? What about Honduras?

Just one motive is the geographical facet of the proximity to Eurocentrism. The refugee was tainted in media and politicians. And Russian imperialism has reached the humanization of the refugee, as inside the ecosystem of refugee legislation the imperialism of the Russian invasion has managed to whitewash—inadvertently—the refugee’s notion to cater to the Eurocentric eyesight of what a refugee is. The Ukrainian refugees locate their spot and security in the Western version of refugee regulation. As it is prepared in other places: “One journalist described Ukrainians as ‘civilized’ in an endeavor to differentiate them from other refugees and other people instructed that it’s far more hard to witness the plight of Ukrainians since they ‘appear like us.’” The recent developments at the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court docket expose the bias in a ongoing vacuum that is present toward peoples from the Worldwide South: the allegedly civilised establishments deem the adjudication of the Western Hemisphere more urgent than the thing to consider of the entire world of the so-called uncivilised.

IV. Conclusion

The current war exposes that global legislation is the legislation of the highly effective. Professor B.S. Chimni wrote: “International law is playing a vital part in aiding legitimise and sustain the unequal structures and processes that manifest themselves in the developing north-south divide. Without a doubt, worldwide legislation is the principal language in which domination is coming to be expressed in the era of globalisation.”

Its strength is also its weak point: only the radical reconceptualization as a legislation rooted in solidarity and anti-hegemonic resistance. In fact, as we have found, international law is both equally section of the dilemma and portion of the answer. It conceals the hegemonic aims of the most impressive actors.

In German, global legislation is referred to as Völkerrecht, translated as “the law of the peoples.” To conquer hegemony and imperialism in international regulation, this law has to turn into, in simple fact, the law of the peoples—a law that is developed from the base to the prime, serving the passions of the many, not the number of. To make justice for the folks of Bandung, Kiev or somewhere else, we want to orientate toward justice and resistance in opposition to imperialism no matter of exactly where it originates. And only this renews the Bandung spirit.


Dr. Dr. Thamil Ananthavinayagan is a teaching affiliate in intercontinental human rights law at the College of Nottingham University of Law.


Proposed quotation: Thamil Ananthavinayagan, From Bandung to Kiev: Revisiting Imperialism, JURIST – Educational Commentary, March 19, 2022,

This report was ready for publication by Hayley Behal, a JURIST employees editor. Please direct any thoughts or reviews to her at [email protected]

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