The Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights
Faculty of Law
P.O. BOX 4 (visiting address: Yliopistonkatu 3)
Tel: +358 (0)29 4123140



Two Global Souths, Resistance and the Future of International Law and Human Rights

Guest lecture by Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Associate Professor of Law and Development
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Time: 15 April 2015, 14.15-16
Venue: P545, Faculty Meeting Room, Porthania (Yliopistonkatu 3)
Coffee service prior to event. No registration needed.

How must one think about International Law and Human Rights if the South is indeed rising?  The rise of the South or the ‘Rest’, as scholars and commentators have come to identify, is one of the most profound geopolitical events of the last quarter century with implications for the next quarter century.  Formerly colonized or weak countries and formerly voiceless populations have emerged as significant actors with profound influence on political economy and even law sometimes.  But this rise has not only been a rise of nation-states in economic and political terms; it has also been a rise of social movements, networks, and private actors, often embedded in their nation-states, but transcending their territorialities.  This rise has emerged as a central challenge to the post-war world order dominated by the North, in terms of the values, governance structures, and the power relations that underlie the relations between countries and other actors globally.  Do the rise of the two Souths portend a genuine transformation of global governance, international law and human rights?

Balakrishnan Rajagopal is currently a Professor of Law and Development and Head of the International Development Group at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).  He is also the founding Director of the Program on Human Rights and Justice, and the founder of the Dis-placement Research and Action Network at MIT.  He has a law degree from India as well as an interdisciplinary doctorate in law from Harvard Law School.

He is recognized as a leading participant in the Third World Approaches to Interna-tional Law (TWAIL) Network of scholars and as one of its founders.  He has been a member of the Executive Council and Executive Committee of the American Society of International Law, and is currently on the Asia Advisory Board of Human Rights Watch.  He is on the editorial committee or advisory boards of numerous journals including Transnational Legal Theory and Law and Development Review.

He is a Faculty Associate at Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation and has been a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washing-ton, DC (Spring 2006), the Madras Institute of Development Studies and the Ja-waharlal Nehru University in India (both Spring 2004), the Institute for Advanced Studies at Hebrew University (Spring 2011) and a Visiting Professor at the UN Uni-versity for Peace, University of Melbourne Law School and the Washington College of Law, the American University.

Before coming to MIT, he graduated from Harvard Law School with a doctoral degree in law.  While at Harvard, he received many fellowships including a Senior Fellow-ship, the Samuel Morse Lane Fellowship, the Reginald Lewis Fellowship, and was the recipient of the Soros Justice Senior Fellowship (1998-99).  He also received and declined the Peace Scholar Award from the US Institute of Peace in Washington DC.  During his Master’s degree in Law at the American University, he received a Dean’s Fellowship and the Outstanding Research and Writing Award.

Before Harvard, he served for many years with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia and received Cambodia’s highest Royal Award for foreign nationals from the King of Cambodia (Royal Order of Sahametrei, 1997).

He has published numerous scholarly articles in leading law journals including the Harvard, Columbia, Boston University, Connecticut and Leiden journals of interna-tional law, Third World Quarterly, Human Rights Review, Human Rights Quarterly and the William and Mary Law Review and chapters in various volumes.  He is the author of two books - International Law from Below: Development, Social Movements and Third World Resistance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003; 2nd edition forthcoming), and Reshaping Justice: International Law and the Third World (co-editor, Routledge, 2008).

His work has been translated into Chinese, Spanish, and French.  He is currently completing a book manuscript for Cambridge University Press on legalization of so-cio-economic rights in the Global South and an edited volume for Edward Elgar on Human Rights and Development.  He also publishes widely in the media on human rights and international law and issues concerning the global south in such publica-tions as the Boston Globe, the Hindu, Washington Post, the Indian Express, El Uni-versal, and the Nation, and is a blogger at